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Fkuto by Jeamie E. Bennett, Baltimore, Md. 










In the early part of February, 1920, I crossed into Russia 
through the Polish Front, as correspondent of the Baltimore 
Sim and the Associated Press, intending to remain for six 
weeks. I stayed for eighteen months, ten of which were spent 
in prison. This was due to the manner in which I entered the 
country, and my actions while there, which I shall describe 
fully in the following pages telling what happened to me as 
well as what I heard and saw in Russia. My treatment while 
in prison was no different from that accorded any other pris- 
oners, native or foreign, and I can honestly say that I have 
come through it all with absolutely no personal bitterness and 
with what I believe to be a purely impartial view of conditions 
in the Soviet Republic. 

My account of my experiences is written entirely from 
memory, as I was permitted to take no notes out of the country 
when I was released on July 28, upon the acceptance by the 
Soviet government of the terms of the American Relief 
Association for famine relief in Russia, which was made 
conditional on the release of all American prisoners. 

Marguerite E. Harrison. 



Foreword v 


I Warsaw to No Man's Land ..... . . ii 

II A Red Army Billet . i8 

III Work and Play in the Red Army ...... 2,y 

IV A Trip in a Box Car . 36 

V An Unwelcome Guest 45 

VI News Gathering in Moscow . 52 

VII The Gods and Their Machine 67 

VIII The Woman's Part .......... 78 

IX Soviet Weddings 86 

X BouRjEoi 93 

XI Under Suspicion 106 

XII Bureaus and Bureaucrats 118 

XIII Ikons and Anti-Christ 130 

XIV Radical Anti-Reds 140 


XVI Moscow Foyers and Salons . 158 

XVII A Provincial Junket 170 

XVIII Pageants and Plots 180 

XIX A Modern Babel . 188 

XX Al Fresco Adventures 201 

XXI The Shadow of the Checka ..... . . . 209 

XXII The Trap is Sprung .; , 225 

XXIII Odinochka 232 

XXIV Close Quarters 238 





XXV Prison Holidays .......:.,... 250 

XXVI The Mills of the Gods . . .; . . .« « . . 250 

XXVII An Attic Cell „ .., . 271 

XXVIII Wherein a Jailbird Turns Jailer ..,..,. 281 

XXIX Prison de Luxe .: . 292 

XXX Release Number 2961 300 

Afterword 308 






COOPERATIVES . . . .. . .. . . i.; . . 322 



To get into any country by the back door, after having 
been refused permission to come in by the front way, does not 
sound like a simple thing to do, yet, as a matter of fact, I 
accomplished the feat without any great difficulty in February, 
1920, when I entered Soviet Russia from Poland while a 
state of war existed between the two nations. My method was 
simplicity itself — I passed through the Polish lines into No 
Man's Land, and gave myself up to the first Red Army patrol. 
By this means I succeeded two weeks later in reaching Mos- 
cow, where I stayed for eighteen months, during which I was 
arrested twice by the Checka, living for six months under 
surveillance and for nearly ten in prison. 

Under the circumstances I consider that I fared rather well. 
If, as an American citizen, I had tried to get into Germany 
through the front lines from France after diplomatic relations 
had been broken off between the United States and that 
country, I doubt if I would have been as lucky with either the 
French or the Boches, for I would have run a pretty good 
chance of being taken for a spy by both sides. 

My decision to get into Russia by the underground route 
was reached only after I had tried and failed to get in by 
legitimate means. I had been in Germany as the correspondent 
of the Baltimore Sun during the six months of readjustment 
and revolution immediately following the Armistice, and there, 



through persons identified with the SociaHst movement, I had 
heard many things, which made me reaHze that we, in Western 
countries, knew little or nothing of what was actually hap- 
pening in Soviet Russia. I wanted to see something at close 
range of the great social experiment of the Bolsheviks. Con- 
sequently on my return to America in the early autumn of 
1 9 19 I applied at the Martens Bureau in New York for 
permission to enter Russia for the Baltinwre Sun of which I 
was a staff correspondent, the A^^^t^ York Evening Post, which 
had given me credentials as occasional traveling correspondent, 
and Underwood & Underwood, for whom I had agreed to 
take pictures in Europe. I was told flatly that this would be 
impossible. The Soviet government at that time was not en- 
couraging the entrance of bourgeois press correspondents. 
It was felt that the privileges accorded correspondents in 
Russia had been so often abused by deliberate misstatements 
intended to further anti-Bolshevik propaganda that, with few 
exceptions, the Foreign Office was refusing permission to the 
representatives of non-Socialist papers. I was even warned 
that it would be extremely unwise for me to attempt to get 
into the country. 

In spite of this fact I started for Europe in October deter- 
mined to try my luck. In London I had a conversation, con- 
firmed later in writing, with Mr. Collins, European manager 
of the Associated Press, who had agreed to accept my services 
as Moscow correspondent should I succeed in entering Russia. 
The refusal of the Martens Bureau closed the only legitimate 
routes through Esthonia, Finland and the Soviet courier serv- 
ice via Murmansk. It also barred me from applying to the 
only other agency which could have given me permission — 
Litvinov's bureau at Copenhagen. 

There remained another possibility — entrance through one 
of the countries with which Soviet Russia was then at war, 
Latvia, Lithuania or Poland. I chose the last named route, 
not because it was the easiest, but because it promised the most 
interesting experiences, and laid my plans accordingly. I 
wish to emphasize these facts because they had an important 
bearing on what happened to me later. I was deliberately 


taking a desperate risk, and I had no one but myself to blame 
for the consequences. 

I arrived in Warsaw in December with no very definite 
plans except that somehow or other I was determined to get 
to Russia. At that time I spoke very little Russian, so the 
first thing that was absolutely essential was an interpreter. 
It was necessary to find someone who would be acceptable 
to the Bolsheviks and at the same time did not have too bad 
a standing with the Polish authorities. For some time I 
failed to find anyone meeting these requirements. Then by 
chance I met Doctor Anna Karlin, She was a Russian who 
had emigrated to the United States some ten years previously, 
had taken out American citizenship papers, and lived for some 
time in Chicago, where she was identified with Socialist activi- 
ties. At the beginning of the revolution she had gone to Russia 
via Siberia and had worked for a year as a Red Army phy- 
sician, being assigned to duty in Galicia. When the Poles 
occupied this territory in the Autumn of 1919 she was made 
a prisoner, but as she claimed American citizenship she was 
allowed to go unmolested to Warsaw. For some months she 
tried to obtain an American passport, but without success. I 
found her out of work, unable to return to the United States 
and practically destitute. She still retained her Red Army 
papers, and I felt that, once in Russia, she would be able to 
take care of herself. I suggested that she should accompany 
me to Russia as an interpreter. She agreed, and we left to- 
gether for Minsk, then occupied by Polish troops in command 
of General Jelikovski. 

My first difficulties were encountered when I applied for 
a permit for her to leave Warsaw. As a Jewess, and as a 
person who had formerly been in the service of the Red Army, 
the Polish authorities were naturally inclined to be suspicious 
of her, and it took me some time to obtain the necessary papers. 
On my arrival in Minsk I called on General Jelikovski, ex- 
plained to him that I was anxious to get into Soviet Russia and 
asked for a safe conduct through the Polish lines on that 
sector of the Beresina front. I was met with a point-blank 
refusal. In the first place, the general told me, he would not 


be responsible for my personal safety. If I crossed the front 
in that manner I would certainly be shot as a spy by the Bolshe- 
viks. In addition I would naturally learn much about the 
disposition of the Polish troops, and either unwittingly, or 
under pressure, I might give valuable information to the Reds. 
As for taking with me a Jewish woman, who had been with 
the Red Army and afterwards lived in Warsaw, that was ut- 
terly preposterous ! 

After several interviews I realized that General Jelikovski 
knew his own mind and that it was impossible to do anything 
with him. Meanwhile I had made many acquaintances in 
Minsk among the Jews who were bitterly antagonistic to the 
Polish occupation on account of the unjust persecutions to 
which they were subjected. While not Communists by con- 
viction, most of them secretly sympathized with the Bolshe- 
viks on account of the attitude of the Poles. As Minsk was 
formerly a Russian province, nearly all of them had ties con- 
necting them with Soviet Russia. There was a flourishing trade 
in contraband between the Jews in Minsk and their co-reli- 
gionists in Russia, and a well organized underground railroad 
of communication between the Russian and Polish branches 
of various Jewish benevolent organizations such as the *'Oze" 
and the "Jdkopo." Most of these people crossed the lines 
through the Beresina sector, because it was the least guarded 
of all the fronts and also because it was used for the repatria- 
tion of Germans, and for exchange of hostages between the 
Poles and Russians. For this purpose a sort of tacit armistice 
had been established. On all other sectors of the front while 
there was no actual fighting there were frequent skirmishes 
and to cross between the lines was much more difficult. I had 
determined that if I was unsuccessful in getting a safe con- 
duct from the military authorities I would throw in my luck 
with the Jewish contrabanders, but if I had been caught this 
would have blocked all my future chances of getting into 
Russia through Poland. 

I had heard that General Szeptitzki, who was In command 
of the Vilna sector, was a much more approachable person. I 
therefore determined to go to Vilna and try to get a permit 


from him. So, leaving Dr. Karlin at Minsk I started for 
Vilna. At that time travel in eastern Poland was anything 
but luxurious. I made the trip from Minsk to Vilna in a 
fourth-class car, packed with Polish soldiers and a large convoy 
of Bolshevik prisoners. The trip, which in normal times is a 
matter of three hours or so, took us just twenty- two hours, 
owing to the sabotage of the railroad emplo3^ees, all of whom 
were White Russians and bitterly antagonistic to the Polish 
occupation. At Moledechno, midway between Minsk and 
Vilna, the engine crew struck and we were held up for four 
or five hours while the Polish officers in command of the 
train tried in vain to secure another crew. Finally they 
collected a purse of two thousand marks and presented it to 
the strikers, upon which they condescended to take us to Vilna. 

Some days after my arrival I had an interview with General 
Szeptitzki, and told him what I had in mind. At first he 
emphatically refused, but I finally succeeded in persuading 
him to give me a safe conduct through the Polish lines. Armed 
with this I returned to Minsk determined to give the slip to 
General Jelikovski and cross through his sector. The best 
route was from Minsk through Smolovichi to Borisov. There 
I had Jewish friends who were in constant communication 
with persons across the border and they would be able to give 
me letters of introduction which would help me considerably 
in Russia. I calculated that once on the front a permit from 
General Szeptitzki, who was well known and much loved 
throughout the entire army, would be sufficient to induce the 
officer in command of the front line troops to pass me through 
unless he received orders from Minsk to the contrary. So 
as a military permit was necessary to travel on the train to 
Borisov we left Minsk early one morning in a sleigh furnished 
us by Jewish contrabanders. We covered the one hundred 
and twenty versts to Borisov in a day, arriving late at night 
by a circuitous route, so that we would not be challenged by 
Polish sentries. 

The next morning I interviewed the commanding officer, 
showed my permit from General Szeptitzki, carefully conceal- 
ing the fact that I had come from Minsk and it was arranged 


that I should be conducted through the front lines on the 
following day. 

Having accomplished this much, my only anxiety, as far 
as the Poles were concerned, was that I might be searched 
for letters before leaving the country. On the way to Poland 
I had received several letters of introduction for Moscow 
from Paul Birukov, a Russian, friend and biographer of 
Tolstoi, whom I had met in Geneva. One was to Brons 
Brouyevitch, who was associated with Lunacharsky, Com- 
missioner of Education; another to Krupkaya, wife of Lenin. 
Besides I had a letter from a well known Polish Communist, 
and a number of personal letters from Jewish people in 
Poland to their relatives in Russia. The latter, for all I 
knew, might be a disadvantage to me with the Bolsheviks 
as well, for in most cases I had no idea of the politics of 
the people who had given them to me. I even had three 
thousand Kerensky roubles from a Doctor Szabad of Vilna, 
for his wife, who was living in Petrograd, and letters from 
members of Jewish benevolent associations to fellow members 
in Orscha, Vitebsk, Smolensk and Moscow. Much to my 
relief the subject was never brought up, and as a matter of 
fact I was not searched until my arrival in Moscow. 

We left Borisov for the front in a sleigh early on the 
morning of February 8th, with a Polish soldier who acted as 
our escort during an exciting drive of seven versts, along a 
rough highway rutted by heavy motor lorries, through a 
winding track in a dense forest where we often had to stop 
and bridge the trenches with spruce boughs to permit the 
passage of our sleigh. We finally arrived at a dugout built 
of logs, camouflaged with evergreens where I found an officer 
who had been notified of our coming from staff headquarters 
at Borisov. He was none too cordial and evidently did not 
relish his task of conducting me to No Man's Land. We had 
coffee together and all the while he entertained me with ac- 
counts of Bolshevik atrocities, predicting that I would prob- 
ably be shot within twenty-four hours and suggesting that 
perhaps I should like to change my mind and go back to Bo- 
risov. Finding me adamant, he started out leading the way 


through a network of barbed wire entanglements with my 
carryall slung over his shoulder. I followed with my suitcase 
and knapsack, and the little doctor, who was very fat and short 
of breath, brought up the rear. 

Finally we emerged from the woods and I found myself 
on the edge of No Man's Land, a wide open expanse of snow- 
covered fields dotted here and there with peasant villages. Ap- 
parently it was absolutely uninhabited. There were no signs 
of life, not even an occasional peasant or a village dog — 
dead silence brooded over everything. I knew that somewhere, 
just beyond, were detachments of the Red Army, but there was 
no evidence of their proximity. Some distance away was a 
small settlement of about six houses and the officer informed 
me that there we would be able to find a sleigh to take us to the 
nearest village. We covered the distance in a few minutes 
and knocked at the door of one of the houses, a rough board 
structure with a thatched roof. A bearded peasant with a 
sheepskin coat and astrakhan cap appeared at the door. He 
eyed my escort in a rather unfriendly manner and was de- 
cidedly disgruntled when ordered to bring out his sleigh and 
take us to the nearest village, where, I was told, I would 
probably meet the Red Army patrol in a few hours. Presently 
he brought up a moth-eaten horse and a broken down sleigh 
into which we piled our bags, following him on foot to the 
village which we reached after a half-hour tramp. We stopped 
in front of a schoolhouse, the only decent building in the 
place, where we were received by the teacher, a very pretty 
Russian girl who spoke Polish well, and seemed to be on ex- 
cellent terais with my officer. They had a long conversation 
during which she evidently gave him a certain amount of im- 
portant information for which he paid several pounds of 
chocolate and a package of tea. Then he said good-bye to me, 
wishing me luck, and Doctor Karlin and I were left to await 
the arrival of the Red Army patrol. 


The room in which we were sitting served as the teacher's 
living and bedroom. It was large and cheerful, with geraniums 
in the windows, a comfortable drugget on the floor, and a big 
porcelain stove in the comer that made us forget the intense 
cold outside — in fact several degrees below zero. In a few 
minutes, with true Russian hospitality, the teacher brought in 
a bubbling samovar, some small oaten cakes with bacon fat 
instead of butter, and invited us to have a cup of real tea, 
which she had probably received on a previous visit from 
our officer. It was all very different from what I had imag- 
ined. I had thought that I would find No Man's Land a deso- 
late waste, but here was no sign of war and destruction — even 
comparative comfort. To tell the truth, I never had the feeling 
that I was in the zone of military operations, either on the 
Polish or Russian front lines. 

To anyone who was at all familiar with the Western 
Front in the great war, the Beresina front was like going back 
to the days of, say. Napoleon. The Poles had an irregular 
line of entrenchments and barbed wire entanglements, seven 
versts east of the Beresina, a few batteries of light artillery 
and machine guns. Their supplies were brought to within a 
few versts of the advanced posts by a small number of decrepit 
motor lorries, which had much difficulty in ploughing their 
way through the heavy snow. Then they were loaded on 
sleighs or carried in packs to the front line trenches. There 
were no narrow gauge lines, no funny little dummy engines, 
no strings of supply trains passing one another. Everything 
was primitive and simple to a degree; there was none of the 
paraphernalia of modern war. The soldiers were poorly 



armed, poorly equipped, and lived in the rudest shelters 

The Bolsheviks did not even pretend to have a line of en- 
trenchments. Betvifeen them and the Poles was a wide 
stretch of open territory, perhaps five versts across in the 
narrowest portion. Behind this debatable ground were the 
scattered villages, in which the Red Army detachments were 
billeted. On that sector of the Russian front I never saw 
a trench or a dugout. The entire army was like a flying 
squadron, ready to advance or retreat at a moment's notice. 
Of course the Russian climate makes a winter campaign prac- 
tically impossible, and the Bolsheviks were quite safe as they 
were. Besides, both sides at that time confidently expected 
peace in the spring, and were simply maintaining an attitude 
of watchful waiting. 

So far I had seen no evidences of the presence of the 
Red Army, but in about an hour the door opened and three 
men in rough khaki colored coats, high boots and astrakhan 
caps came in. Each wore on his cap a five-pointed star, and 
one had pinned to his coat the Communist insignia, a star 
surrounded by a silver wreath. He was a splendid looking 
fellow, of the peasant type, with clear blue eyes and a whole- 
some, ruddy skin, very young and very much impressed with 
the importance of his office, for he was a political commissar. 
I explained to him in my very best Russian, that I had come 
from America to learn the truth about the Soviet Government, 
and that I wished to go on to Moscow. 

"That is very good of you," he said simply, with the 
friendliest smile imaginable, "but I have no authority to let 
you go farther. I must telephone to the company commander 
in Lochnitza, the next village. Meanwhile we will do all we 
can to make you comfortable here." 

While we were waiting for a reply the teacher invited me 
to have a look at the schoolroom across the hall. School was 
over for the day, and I found a meeting of the village Soviet 
going on. There were women as well as men gathered around 
the chairman, who was reading a decree from Moscow order- 
ing the mobilization of all men of the classes of 1883, 1884 


and 1885 to cut and haul wood for the railroads and the army. 
This was followed by the announcement that all villagers who 
had not a sufficient supply of wood to last through the winter 
would be allotted a certain amount, and a list of names of those 
in need of wood was read. Instantly several hands were 

"My neighbor, Dmitri Pavlovitch, is not on the list," said 
one man. "He has not enough wood to last a month," Dmi- 
tri's name was promptly written down, as was that of a woman 
who claimed that she had been overlooked, and various other 
matters affecting the commune were taken up one by one. 
Few of the members could read or write, and yet they were 
governing themselves in an orderly and efficient manner. 

"We are doing our best," said the young commissar, who 
had come back with the news that I was to be sent to the com- 
pany command fifteen versts away, "but we are greatly 
handicapped because of the lack of cooperation of the intelli- 
gent classes. We want them to work with us." 

Our trip was made in two requisitioned sleighs, Doctor 
Karlin and I occupying the first, the second containing our 
baggage and two soldiers. The way led down the broad 
highroad that runs from Minsk to Moscow, which I had 
already traveled on the Polish side. It was built by Catherine 
the Great ; to this day it is bordered in many places by double 
rows of birch trees planted in her time, and the peasants still 
call it the "Ekaterina Chaussee." Our driver was a typical 
moujik, big, blond, gentle and childlike, with a certain underly- 
ing shrewdness. He was extremely talkative and the fact that 
I was a foreigner gave him an added degree of confidence. 
Indeed he was childishly eager to explain his perplexities and 
get my advice. "We are a dark people, Barina," he said; "we 
know little beyond our own villages. It was bad for us under 
our father, the Tsar, that much we know. Now we have a 
new government. Will it be better for us, do you think?" 

I told him it would be hard for me, as a foreigner, to judge, 
and asked him how the people of his village had been treated 
by the Red Army. 

According to his accoiiiiis, on the whole, they had fared 


much better since the revohition. A commissar had taken 
charge, and had made a Hst of foodstuffs and hve stock avail- 
able. Each peasant had been allowed enough for his needs, 
and the surplus had been requisitioned for the army. There 
had been no robbery and no lawlessness. On certain days he 
was compelled to report for work with his horse and sleigh, 
but otherwise he was left free to attend to his own affairs. 
In his village, he told me, there was enough food, with the 
exception of salt, but salt was extremely expensive, and al- 
most unobtainable. Parties constantly crossed the Polish 
lines to smuggle in supplies, but they were frequently arrested 
and shot by the Poles. As for the soldiers of the Red Army, 
they had as a rule been very good to the peasants, often sharing 
their supplies with them, or giving salt in return for eggs, 
milk and bacon. 

Other peasants with whom I talked in the districts through 
which we passed, which are among the poorest agricultural 
regions in Russia, told the same story with variations. In 
some villages there was no surplus and often a shortage of 
food supply, and there requisitions had been made very spar- 
ingly. There was some dissatisfaction over the failure of the 
government to provide food, but no antagonism to the admin- 
istration as such. 

Among the few richer moujiks who owned good-sized 
tracts of land there was a strong sentiment against nationaliza- 
tion, but as a matter of fact the government had decided the 
previous year to leave the question of nationalization in 
abeyance. Actually, under the Soviet Government there is less 
communism in the matter of land holdings than there was 
under the Tsar. Under the old system much land was owned 
in common by the villages and parcelled out among the peas- 
ants. At present the peasants are in posssesion of their farms. 
Many of them are dubious about this free gift from the gov- 
ernment, and officials are often approached by the peasants 
with offers to pay for their newly acquired interests. The 
peasants may be dissatisfied with taxes or requisitions, they 
may complain of the lack of the government to supply them 
with seeds, farm implements and manufactured goods, but they 


will never rise en masse against any government which leaves 
them in possession of the land. 

Meanwhile they are actually rich as far as money goes, 
and nearly every peasant has his hoard of "Nikolai" roubles 
tucked in his boots or hidden under the family feather bed 
on the stove. At present, however, his money does him no 
good. Many of the village cooperatives are closed or are 
operating on a restricted basis on account of lack of supplies. 

We arrived after dark in a driving snowstorm and stopped 
in front of an "izba" that served as company headquarters. It 
had two rooms. In the first a family of moujiks was living 
An enormous earthenware stove, on top of which the grand- 
mother and children had already gone to bed, was the most 
prominent article of furniture in the room. The father and 
several grown up sons were sitting on a long wooden bench, 
smoking pipes, filled with a vile weed called "mahorka," the 
peasant substitute for tobacco. In front of the fire the mother 
was spinning flax on a spinning wheel that looked as if it 
might have been made in the seventeenth century. The other 
room served as living and sleeping quarters for the comman- 
dant and his political commissar. 

The latter was at first inclined to be somewhat suspicious 
and put me through a rigid cross-examination, but as he showed 
no intention of having me shot on the spot, I began to feel 
slightly encouraged, especially as I knew something of army 
psychology. These Red Army men on the Beresina were 
very much like our own troops on the Western front — they 
were lonely and homesick; they had news and mail only inter- 
mittently. Life was very dull between the intervals of hostili- 
ties and they were thirsty for news and amusement. I was the 
first person who had come to them from the outside world. 
Most of them had never seen a Western European, much less 
an American woman, before. It was curiosity and boredom, 
coupled, perhaps, with a certain admiration of my audacity, 
that carried me through the Red Army from this small village 
on the edge of No Man's Land to Division Headquarters at 

Having successfully passed through the ordeal of cross- 


examination we were received with simple unaffected friendli- 
ness, and deluged with questions with regard to happenings in 
the outside world. Why did the Entente wish to prevent 
Russia from settling her own affairs in her own way? What 
was the attitude of the American people with regard to their 
Russian comrades? Who would be the next American presi- 
dent? When would the blockade be lifted? When would 
Russia have peace ? 

While I was endeavoring to answer in my limited Russian, 
with the help of my interpreter, supper was brought in. There 
were no plates, and we shared a community dish of delicious 
country bacon with black bread, butter and hot tea with milk. 
After supper the commander himself took us to our billet in 
an "izba" across the way. It was quite a luxurious one, boast- 
ing three rooms. Ours was the best in the house, the principal 
articles of furniture being a wooden bed with big down pillows 
and an American sewing machine. The entire family as- 
sembled to greet us, and from that moment we were never left 
alone. They had never seen an American woman before and 
their curiosity was flattering if a bit overwhelming. Every 
piece of baggage was inspected and I undressed and went to 
bed before a breathlessly interested audience. The women of 
the family gathered in my room to watch the process, and the 
men, I felt sure, peeped through the cracks in the wooden 
partition. In the morning my sponge bath in a small tin 
basin was a source of untold entertainment. We had a break- 
fast of pancakes and tea, after which the commander appeared. 
It was ten o'clock and he had just gotten up. Nobody in 
Russia ever wants to go to bed or get up in the morning, 
and reveille is unknown in the Red Army. Soldiers and 
officers get up when they please. 

He invited me to go out and inspect the schools and the 
hospital. "School!" I said. "Is it possible that you have a 
school here?" for we were only fifteen versts from No Man's 

"Yes, indeed," he answered, "and we have more pupils than 
before the Revolution." 

I found that there had formerly been one primary school in 


Lochnitza, with sixty-five pupils. At that time four hundred 
pupils were registered in the primary schools and the gymna- 
sium or secondary school. The entire equipment for the gym- 
nasium had been gotten together very hurriedly. There were 
three class rooms in each of which I found about thirty pupils 
hard at work. The benches had been knocked together from 
boards, with log supports. Similar benches, a little higher, 
served as desks. The blackboards were home-made and the 
pupils were doing their exercises on sheets of wrapping paper, 
cut the required size, with pencils that had been divided into 
three to make them go around. 

The schoolmaster was teaching a class in geometry when 
I came in. He had only two text books. He was an elderly 
man who had formerly taught in one of the gymnasia. All 
his life he had had theories about education which he had never 
been allowed to put into practice, and here he was in this out 
of the way place, within range of the Polish guns, carrying 
out his life's ambition with next to nothing in the way of 
equipment. He had planned for his pupils an up-to-date 
course, corresponding to that in our high schools, including 
modern languages, bookkeeping, scientific and agricultural 
courses. He was very much interested in the American public- 
school system and asked me when I thought they would be 
able to get some pedagogical books from the United States. 
His attitude towards the Soviet Government was purely non- 
political, but I think it was rather favorable than otherwise. 

In the primary schools there was the same lack of technical 
equipment. I talked to one of the teachers who was the daugh- 
ter of a pom^stchik, one of the former landlords in the neigh- 
borhood. She was frankly uninterested in her work and 
resentful at being obHged to teach French and German to the 
children of her father's moujiks. Nothing good could come 
of it, she said, and I could easily see that here was the sabo- 
tage of which I had already heard. 

From the schools we went to the hospital. It was a well- 
arranged building, with light, airy wards, each containing 
twenty beds, a dispensary and an operating room, but it was 
absolutely empty. There was not a piece of linen, a yard of 


surgical dressings, a pound of soap or disinfectant nor an 
ounce of medicine. The physician in charge told me that 
it was impossible to receive patients. 

"All I can do is to handle a few surgical cases in the dis- 
pensary," he said, "and yet the number of new cases of typhus 
averages twenty a week." 

Before we finished our tour of inspection a regular bliz- 
zard was raging, and it was bitterly cold, so we decided to 
remain in Lochnitza for another night, I had just started 
to give the commander an English lesson, after explaining the 
delightful mysteries of my folding typewriter, when he was 
called to the telephone. He came back with a rueful ex- 

"I have bad news for you," he said. 

"Here's where we go back over the border," I thought, 
but it proved that he had orders to send us on at once to regi- 
mental headquarters at Nacha, twenty-five versts away; so 
we bundled up and set off in two sleighs down the long, broad 
Chaussee. Our hosts flatly refused to accept money for our 
meals and lodgings, the old mother only begging me to take 
a letter to her son in New York. She had lost the address, 
but she was quite sure that I would be able to find him, and I 
hadn't the heart to undeceive her. 

We reported at regimental headquarters, where the political 
commissar offered us his own billet, a warm, comfortable room 
in a clean little "izba," where we had supper with him and the 
commander of the regiment. They were an interesting pair. 
The commander, Shevilof, was an actor by profession, and an 
artist to his finger tips, and the commissar, Shefchenko, who 
was an ardent Communist, had been an upholsterer. The lat- 
ter told me much about the activities of the Communist party 
in the army, 

"Every officer shares authority with a political commissar, 
who is invariably a Communist," he said. "We are placed in 
the army to guard against purely military authority. All 
complaints, all matters of regimental discipline, and all ques- 
tions affecting relations between the army and the civilian 
population must be referred to us, although with regard to 


technical matters the officer has full liberty of action. It is 
required of an officer simply that he must be an expert in his 
line, and that he shall attend to his business. Under this sys- 
tem it is possible for us to make use of former army officers, 
irrespective of their political convictions, because their activi- 
ties are controlled. There are, in addition, Communists 
among the enlisted men in every regiment, and we choose 
some of our best men for that job, because we realize the 
importance of propaganda." 

The commander was plainly not interested in politics, 
and our talk drifted to music, the theater, books and finally 
to Russian songs. One after another he sang lovely folk 
melodies, boat songs from the Volga, harvest songs from the 
Ukraine, songs of forgotten heroes. Soon a crowd of sol- 
diers gathered at the door and we all joined in the chorus. Then 
followed revolutionary songs, such as the splendid funeral 
march of the Communists, the famous "Varschavianka" and the 
"Doubinushka," perhaps the finest of all Russian folk songs, 
for it is the heart cry of the Russian people. For generations 
the untranslatable chorus was sung by factory workers toiling 
twelve hours a day, by the slaves of the ^pontestchiki and 
by the political prisoners in the Siberian mines, who were kept 
from dropping at their tasks by the steady rhythm. The hours 
slipped by and it was five o'clock in the morning before we 
wished each other "Spakoinye noche," a peaceful night. 

We were left to sleep undisturbed until nearly noon, when 
the commissar knocked at our door. He had communicated 
with brigade headquarters at Krupki, some twenty-five versts 
away, and had received instructions to send us on as soon as 
possible. From there, he told us, we would get direct rail 
communications with Moscow. So far we had traveled entirely 
by sleigh, as the railroad had been torn up in anticipation of 
the Polish offensive. At Krupki we would be behind the front 
lines and would find much more comfortable accommodations. 


Kmpki, as brigade headquarters, was quite an important 
town, with a correspondingly important staff. The command- 
ing officer was away at the time of our arrival, and we were 
received by the political commissar, a Pole named Sinkiewicz. 
I had n:uch more difficulty in getting by the first examination 
with him than with the other commissars, for he was both 
inquisitiye and suspicious, besides being exceedingly intelli- 
gent, and a devoted Communist. Finally, however, he decided 
to let us stay at Krupki, I rather think in order that he might 
observe us himself. He gave up his own room to me, and 
left nothing undone to make us comfortable. We stayed for 
nearly a week, and I grew to know him very well. Before 
the war he had been a joiner, and he had had only a rudi- 
mentary education, but he had natural ability, real enthusiasm, 
and unlimited capacity for work. No detail was too small 
to receive his attention. He worked from nine or ten of one 
morning till three or four of the next, and the soldiers, while 
not fond of him, for he was a rather unapproachable person, 
respected him greatly. Outwardly in his command there was 
very little of what we would call discipline; the soldiers never 
stood at attention or saluted; there were apparently no fixed 
hours for anything, but when he gave an order it was instantly 

With him I visited many of the enlisted men's billets. 
They were comfortably housed, and there was none of the over- 
crowding which I had noticed in the Polish army. The men's 
equipment was excellent, though not uniform. Each man 
had two suits of underwear, a uniform consisting of a flannel 
blouse or an army tunic somewhat on the American pattern, 
loose, baggy trousers, stout leather boots or shoes and felt 



boots for extreme weather, called vdlinki, an Astrakhan cap, 
a greatcoat or a sheepskin jacket. Their rifles were in good 
order, but not of the latest pattern, and mostly remade. There 
was no army kitchen, each man receiving his rations in bulk, 
and preparing them in his own billet. 

The officers had a mess in the schoolhouse across the way 
from my own billet, and I was invited to share their meals. 
They received the same rations as the men, but employed a 
woman to cook for them, and pooled their suppHes. I prepared 
my breakfast in my room, but had dinner and supper with 
them. The fonner meal consisted of a meat soup, meat cutlets, 
with potatoes or kasha, the Russian national dish (a cereal, 
usually whole wheat, buckwheat or millet), tea, with occasion- 
ally marmalade. Supper was soup, kasha, tea, and sometimes 

There were few officers at headquarters, most of them 
being stationed in adjoining towns, but they often came into 
Krupki for orders and I met many of them. Most of them 
were former imperial army officers, soldiers by profession, 
who had no political ideas, and cared little for whom they 
fought as long as they got their pay; others may have been 
working against the Soviet Government, hoping for a chance 
to put something over, but on the surface everything worked 
smoothly, and the political commissar's word was law. The 
only place where I noticed sabotage or friction was in the Red 
Cross, which is in charge of the Red Army Sanitary Service, 
and there also I began to observe evidences of discontent among 
the Jews, which is far more prevalent in Soviet Russia than 
people on the outside believe. Many of the physicians and a 
large proportion of the personnel were Jews, few of them 
were Communists, nearly all of the men had entered the 
sanitary service to escape active duty, and there was plenty 
of sabotage. The Synagogue had been converted into an 
emergency field hospital, the church being spared, which 
caused a great deal of feeling among the Jewish population. 
This was almost invariably the case in small towns unprovided 
with sufficient hospital facilities, and with no large buildings 
except the church and synagogue. It was quite natural that 


the latter should have been chosen as it was always lighter and 
dryer than the church, but the Jews did not appreciate this 
fact and were in many cases very bitter against the army 

The head physician at Krupki was a most entertaining 
person, who played the harmonica like a virtuoso, and regaled 
me with roast goose and baked apples in his billet, but he was 
very slipshod in his methods and profoundly indifferent. The 
hospital, while well equipped with medicines and supplies, was 
very dirty, and ran itself without any system whatever. 

The peasants at Krupki I found exactly like the others I 
had met — they were very well pleased at owning their land, 
dumbly submissive to the requisition system, which they 
evaded whenever they could, totally apolitical, and only vaguely 
conscious of the great changes that had come to Russia. They 
had always been in the fighting zone since the beginning of the 
war, military rule prevailed then, and it was still in force. 
Their food ration had been getting steadily shorter, supplies 
of manufactured goods less and less, but then that was war. 
They had the land, their children were getting a better educa- 
tion, that was the Revolution. 

On the whole they were rather pleased than otherwise with 
the change. It was easy to see that if they were left in posses- 
sion of their fields, and received a scant supply of salt and 
manufactured articles, they would care very little about the 
form of government in far-away Moscow or even in the pro- 
vincial capital of Vitebsk. The members of the village Soviet 
were simple, hardworking men for the most part; a few of 
them, however, were Communist propaganda workers who 
took the lead, and the others let them run things. 

The Jewish population, composed entirely of former small 
tradespeople, was, on the other hand, bitterly discontented. 
Their stores had been closed, they were compelled to do work 
for the army in order to draw their rations; speculation 
was punished with arrest or imprisonment. Many of them 
were very poor, far worse off indeed than the peasants. In 
the small towns in the war zone there are not multifarious 
commissariats in which the Jews can find comfortable jobs; 


they do not care for hard physical work and many of them 
existed on secreted supplies or devious and dangerous contra- 
band trade with Poland. 

While in Krupki I had an opportunity of seeing one of the 
Red Army schools for illiterates. These schools are splendidly 
organized. There is a school for every two hundred and 
fifty men throughout the entire Red Army. Attendance is 
compulsory and by an intensive system of teaching, illiterates 
are taught to read the newspapers and to write a fairly legible 
hand in six weeks. In the class I saw there were about fifteen 
pupils, mostly sturdy young boys of the peasant class from 
nineteen to twenty- four. They sat around a big table, at the 
head of which stood the teacher. He distributed a number of 
cardboard letters among the pupils, then formed with the 
letters which he had retained a word of one syllable. After 
all had taken a good look at it, he swept the letters into a pile 
in the center of the table and then a race started among the 
pupils to form the word from memory, the man who made it 
first and correctly winning the game. They were as keen 
about it as children, a score was kept and there was hot rivalry 
among them to see who would come out ahead at the end 
of the lesson. 

It was very interesting to note that while teaching the sol- 
diers the alphabet, the teacher also inculcated the first principles 
of Communism. Words employing all vowels and consonants 
were most cleverly brought into the lesson, each chosen with a 
view to propaganda. A more advanced class was using a 
primer for adult illiterates, which had been published by the 
department of education. The first sentence was: "Mui ne 
rabui — mui radi." "We are not slaves — we are glad." Then 
follows (this time I will only give the English translation) : 
"We are all equal — our masters are sorry." "We used to 
work for our masters, now we work for ourselves." "We 
elect our Soviets." "The Soviets are the tocsin of the people." 
"Our army is an army of workers and peasants," and so on. 
When words of three syllables were reached there were a num- 
ber of short expositions of the principles of soviet government, 
the relation between town and city workers and finally a brief 


sketch of the growth of the Communist movement from the 
foundation of the First International. The first "piece" was 
a speech of Trotzki. 

Reading of dates and numbers was taught by such his- 
torical landmarks as the birth of La Salle and Karl Marx, the 
Decembrist revolution, the assassinations of Alexander the 
Second and Stolypin, the March and October Revolutions 
and the meetings of the International. 

The educational system in the army is so well organized 
that I believe that every man who serves six months or more 
in the Red Army will go home with at least a rudimentary 

Social amusements as well are not lacking in the Red Army. 
One night while I was at Krupki I was invited to a ball in the 
brigade recreation center, a short distance outside of the 
town. This was a house which formerly belonged to one of 
the large landowners in the neighborhood. On the first floor 
were recreation and lounge rooms for the soldiers, well supplied 
with newspapers and propaganda hterature. Upstairs a large 
room had been converted into a combination theater and ball- 
room. All the stage settings had been designed and made by 
the soldiers themselves. The curtain was made of strips of 
muslin, which Russian soldiers are in the habit of wrapping 
around their feet instead of stockings under their high boots 
or vdlinki. 

The ball was preceded by three one-act plays, in which the 
women's parts were taken by girls from the village. The first 
two plays were the production of local Red Army talent. One 
was a sort of condensed version of "Ten Nights in a Barroom," 
the other frankly militaristic propaganda about a boy who re- 
deems a worthless past by valiant service in the Red Army. 
The third, much to my amusement, was a conventional society 
farce with all the earmarks of Class, and it was played and 
applauded with more zest than either of the others. 

After the performance chairs were pushed back and the 
dance began, the music being furnished by a regimental band, 
which alternated Russian national dances with American rag- 
time. We had "A Hot Time in the Old Town," "On the Mis- 


sissippi," Sousa's marches, including the "Stars and Stripes 
Forever," and I danced the two-step for the first time in ten 
years. The Russian dances were far more intricate and 
proved a great tax on my adaptabihty, but I managed to get 
through without any serious mistakes. 

Officers and enHsted men mingled indiscriminately, for 
when not on duty no distinction of rank is officially recognized. 
The uniforms are supposed to be all the same, the only differ- 
ence being that the officer wears on his left arm the Red stars 
and bars, the insignia of rank. But I found that practice in 
this rule was not always strictly observed ; the officers' uniforms 
were usually of better quality than those of the men. Some 
of them sported British uniforms or tunics and Sam Brown 
belts, from army stores captured in Siberia or Archangel. 

The word "officer" is never used in the Red Army, being 
replaced by the word "Commander"; thus a company com- 
mander is addressed "Comrade Company Commander," a gen- 
eral "Comrade Division Commander." The organization of 
the army is similar to the organization of other armies, begin- 
ning with the rota or company and going to the division which 
consists of a minimum of ten thousand men. Several divisions 
form an "army," which is a slightly larger unit than an Ameri- 
can division. There were forty thousand men in the Seven- 
teenth Army, whose guest I was, and which had its head- 
quarters at Smolensk. 

In the middle of the party dancing stopped and we played 
a game called "Post Office." Pencils and paper were dis- 
tributed, each guest was given a small slip of paper on which 
was written a number. These we pinned on our chests, and 
then proceeded to write letters to the people we wanted to meet, 
addressing them by number, and signing our own numbers. 
The letters were dropped in a mail bag and distributed by a 
soldier postman. If Citizeness 27 received a letter from Citi- 
zen 17 she was supposed to ask him to dance. 

I had a number of letters, some of them very touching in 
their naive joy at seeing someone who brought news from the 
outside world. Others welcomed me simply and heartily to 
Soviet Russia, and some were very amusing. One man 


wrote in English, ''You danced very well." I promptly asked 
him to try it with me and then inquired where he had learned 
English. He told me that he had been a sailor on the Russian- 
American Steamship Company's boats which ran between New 
York and Libau. The first question he asked me about the 
United States was "Is Coney Island still running?" 

In the intervals between dancing we often adjourned to 
the buffet where tea was dispensed from a big brass samovar, 
and sausage and cheese sandwiches served. The girls at the 
party were all from the town or daughters of the peasants in 
the neighborhood. For the most part they were well dressed 
and looked rosy and happy. I talked to several girls as well 
as parents in Krupki and other towns in the army zone, and 
I never heard of an instance of women being outraged by 
Red Army men. The relation between the men and the girls 
was one of comradeship and absolute equality. There were 
many army weddings, both civil and religious, 

A few days later I was invited to amateur theatricals fol-' 
lowed by a dance at Bober, another army post a short distance 
from Krupki. My interpreter and I drove over in a sleigh, 
after an ineffectual attempt to take me in a motorcycle. There 
were very few motorcycles or lorries in the army, and mes- 
sages and supplies were usually carried by sleigh, but in our 
battalion there was one decrepit English motorcycle. The 
young officer who operated it was as proud of it as a child, 
and in spite of the heavy snow assured me that he could take 
me the thirty-five versts to Bober and back. I was ready on 
time, and watched him while he tinkered with the machine for 
an hour. Finally he announced that it was working all right. 
I got in and we started off at the rate of about sixty miles an 
hour, but suddenly something went wrong, we slackened speed, 
puffed and snorted, turned around three times and finally tried 
to climb up the steps of the village school. Then we made 
another start, bumped into a telegraph pole, and skidded off 
into a snow drift. I got out and pushed from behind while the 
driver tried to get every possible ounce of power out of 
his wheezy engine. Suddenly he started unexpectedly. I gave 
a flying leap and landed on all fours in the side car, but we 


decided that while the going was good it would be better to go 
back to Krupki and take a sleigh to Bober. 

At Bober I had dinner with an army physician and his 
wife. Officially they were not married, for it is forbidden for 
a man and wife to serve in the same unit in the Red Army, but 
she acted as his secretary, and what is more, the entire family 
consisting of three children, a cow, a pet goat and six bantam 
chickens accompanied them from one army post to another. 
It was an instance of "pull," which is not confined, as I dis- 
covered, only to capitalistic countries. Indeed, there is no 
place where it is more flourishing at the present time than in 
Russia. They were both very intelligent; he, while not at all 
in sympathy with the existing regime, was devoted to his 
work. The evacuation hospital under his care was at that time 
mainly devoted to typhus and pneumonia cases as there was 
practically an armistice on that sector of the front, and the 
men wounded some weeks previously had all been sent to the 
rear. He told me that some of the most necessary medicines 
were lacking, but that they obtained many drugs through 
contraband trade with the Poles. Actually the Red Army was 
being supplied with a considerable quantity of drugs and 
surgical supplies by its enemies, Polish officers sometimes 
engaging in the underground traffic. At Orscha, a few days 
later, I saw a large room filled with American Red Cross 
supplies that had been bought from officers in the Polish Army. 

The play at Bober was a classical comedy, very well acted 
and staged with considerable ingenuity, for everything had 
been made by the soldiers themselves. There was one boy 
of nineteen, a real artist, who played exquisitely on the violin, 
giving a number of Russian dances and folk songs as well 
as one of Wieniawski's Caprices, which he interpreted in a 
masterly manner. Afterwards I was invited to supper at the 
Aviators' Club, The aviators were all old Imperial army 
officers; most of them spoke French or German, and we had 
a very jolly time. From their manners and conversation they 
might have been still in their old environment. Their squadron 
possessed, they told me, only five old French planes of the 


1 91 7 model, petrol was scarce and the winter storms did not 
permit them to do much flying. Altogether, they said, the 
air force of the Red Army was insignificant and could only 
be counted on for a small amount of scout work. 


We had a funny time getting away from Krupki. It was 
an extremely good illustration of the Russians' quality of never 
being exact about anything, and their utter lack of system. 
Our train was to leave at twelve o'clock by the new daylight 
saving schedule which went into force on the day fixed for 
our departure, but the army failed to move up its clocks to 
correspond with the railroads, and we arrived just an hour 
late. Incidentally the Bolsheviks go in rather extensively for 
daylight saving. The difference between summer and winter 
time is two and a half hours. The next day we were on time, 
but the commander of the battalion had ordered places re- 
served for us in the post-office car. The official in charge of 
the car refused to admit us without authorization from the 
Commissariat of Posts and Telegraphs, and while he and the 
Red Army men who accompanied us to the station were 
disputing the train moved off. As it was the only train that 
day, we were obliged to spend another twenty-four hours in 

Near the station I inspected a German repatriation echelon, 
loaded with civilians and prisoners of war, who were being 
repatriated through Poland. It was an up-to-date sanitary 
train, complete in every particular, with hospital, kitchen and 
refrigerator cars, steam heated and lighted by electricity. I 
also saw on a siding an ugly looking armored train, rather 
amateurishly constructed from converted flat cars, the guns 
being camouflaged with logs to make it appear like a lumber 

We left Krupki in a box car with the members of a forestry- 
commission and two Soviet officials who had been purchasing 
sole leather intended for the Polish army, from Polish officers 



on the Beresina front. There were ten of us in all, eight men, 
my interpreter and myself. The six foresters were the first 
civilian employees of the Soviet Government with whom I had 
been thrown in contact. They were not in the least interested 
in politics, and the only member of the party who was thor- 
oughly discontented with the present regime was a Jew. The 
paymaster was an old man whom they called babushka, grand- 
father. He sat up in a corner day and night on his money 
chest, smoked mahorka and never said a word, but the others 
were very talkative, and I got to know them well on the trip 
to headquarters at Vitebsk, which took three days and two 
nights, including a stop of some hours at Orscha. 

Our housekeeping arrangements were, to say the least, 
primitive. At both ends of the car were wide board shelves 
covered with clean hay, on which we slept, five on a side. In 
the center was a small sheet metal stove, around which was a 
bench roughly knocked together out of unplaned boards. We 
did all our cooking on this stove. The toilet arrangements 
consisted of a tin bucket and a dipper. In the morning when 
I washed my face and hands I followed the example of the 
others, leaning out of the door of the car, and cupping my 
hands while one of the "comrades" poured in water, with 
which I splashed my face. We made tea and pancakes on the 
stove, and heated cans of excellent meats which, with tea, 
black bread and sugar, were the army traveling rations. 
My companion and I were provided with these at Krupki. 
After supper in the evening we sat around the stove, told 
stories and the soldiers sang Russian songs for us by the 
hour to the accompaniment of a balalaika with one string 

At Orscha I was met at the station by the chairman of the 
local Ispolkom (executive committee), to whom I had sent a 
telegram, as I had a letter for him from his mother, an old 
Jewish lady who lived in Borisov. He took us to his home, 
where he gave us a wonderful dinner : "tschi," a Russian vege- 
table soup, roast goose with potatoes and onions, Jewish style, 
pancakes, with sour cream, tea and cakes and apples for 
dessert. All the while he kept telling me about the terrible 


food shortage in the towns. With him I visited one of the 
"People's Universities," where they had very good technical 
courses, and classes for adult illiterates, and the hospital, which 
lacked the most necessary medicines and supplies. Everything 
available in that line had been requisitioned by the army and 
the civilian population was suffering greatly in consequence. 

While waiting for our box car, or tieplushka, to be attached 
to the next train which was shortly due, I was invited to have 
a look at the "Agit Punkt," the army recreation and propa- 
ganda center, of which there is one in every large town 
through which troops pass. It was a large, airy room, for- 
merly the first-class waiting room. As soon as I entered it 
I was struck with its resemblance to something I had seen 
before, then it occurred to me that it was as nearly as possible 
like an American "Y" center. There was the same arrange- 
ment of tables spread with periodicals and magazines, the same 
type of decorations on the walls, red flags and banners and 
portraits of Lenin replacing the stars and stripes and pictures 
of President Wilson, an American graphophone, a moving pic- 
ture machine, and a platform with a piano and arrangements 
for impromptu theatricals. 

I soon found out why. The director was an old American 
"Y" man — a Russian by birth, it was true, but he had worked 
with the American Y. M. C. A. in Siberia and Russia for 
three years, drifting into the Red Army to carry on the 
same work after the departure of the American workers. He 
had been with them long enough to become thoroughly imbued 
with American ideas and was genuinely homesick for his old 

We arrived in Vitebsk early in the morning, and the doctor 
and I accompanied by an army dentist who had traveled with 
us from Orscha, went to report at Division Headquarters. 
We had all this time been traveling from place to place on 
army safe conducts, which carried us as far as Vitebsk, and it 
was necessary, we were told, for us to get permission from the 
general headquarters of the Seventeenth Army at Smolensk 
to take us through to Moscow. Division headquarters were in 
a large ramshackle building which had formerly been used as 


a hotel, all the rooms being occupied by staff offices. The 
political commissar, a pleasant but rather ignorant man, who 
struck me as being much too young and inexperienced for his 
job, interviewed us, asking comparatively few questions, and 
promised to telegraph immediately for a permit for us to 
proceed to Moscow. 

He told us that his wife had been anxious for some time 
to go to Moscow, but had been unable to obtain permission 
as she had no business there which would entitle her to a 
Commandirovka, as official traveling orders are called in Russia, 
and that sending her as our escort would be an excellent pre- 
text for getting her there. 

While we were waiting we were shown over headquarters, 
inspecting the commissary department, where we found a 
very efficient looking officer examining samples of flour for 
army use. He was well qualified for his job, for he had been 
a baker before the Revolution. The topographical section was 
well equipped with maps, and the communications seemed to 
be in excellent working order, judging from the number of 
telegraph and telephone instruments in operation. The com- 
manding general was an austere looking man, evidently a 
former Imperial officer, for he clicked his heels together and 
made a stiff little bow when we were presented to him. He 
had perfect manners, but seemed rather diffident and uncom- 
municative. My judgment was that he was decidedly uncom- 
fortable in his present position, and was watched rather closely, 
for the political commissar never left us for a minute and 
did most of the talking. The permit for us to go to Moscow 
arrived within an hour, and we were told that the train would 
leave at seven in the evening. Meanwhile perhaps we would 
like to see the town. We said that we would very much, 
and set out in a sleigh, with a pleasant young commissar as 
our escort. 

The first place we visited was the military hospital which 
was clean and very well run, situated on a high hill, where are 
grouped most of the churches, former government buildings 
and the houses of the bourgeoisie. The buildings were sub- 
stantial structures of stone or concrete, painted pink or white, 


some of them beautiful examples of the Russian Empire style 
dating from the early days of the nineteenth century. The 
streets in this part of the town were broad and fairly clean, 
with trees, public squares and picturesque glimpses of the 
frozen Dnieper winding around the foot of the hill where were 
the railroad station and the dirty, forlorn buildings of the lower 
town. These consisted mostly of small Jewish shops, nearly 
all of which were closed, though "free trade" was still nom- 
inally in force in Vitebsk. In the shops which were still open 
the shelves were nearly bare of general merchandise, but the 
food stores exhibited geese and chickens, some meat, white 
bread, cakes and a few withered apples. Here and there a 
cafe was open. In one of these we had imitation coffee flavored 
with saccharin and watered milk, and some insipid little cakes, 
the former three hundred roubles a glass, the latter five hundred 
roubles apiece. The place was literally infested with beg- 
gars and apparently no effort was made to control them. They 
were mostly Jews, for Vitebsk was on the edge of what was 
known as the Jewish Pale, the extreme Eastern limit of the 
zone wherein Jews were permitted to live in the old days, and 
it was a lively trading center between Central Russia and 

The Revolution had put all these small traders out of busi- 
ness, there were neither factories nor a multiplicity of Soviet 
offices to absorb the workers, and those who were not con- 
scripted for the Red Army or employed in one of the govern- 
ment departments were living in direst poverty. The offi- 
cial bread ration for those not classed as heavy workers was 
one-half a pound of black bread a day, and a little soup and 
kasha, which they obtained at the Soviet dining rooms. The 
fare in the children's dining rooms was better than that for 
adults, but they had no fats and no milk. Salt was almost 
impossible to get and the people were desperate for lack of it. 
We had dinner in the dining room for the employees of the 
general staff. It consisted of cabbage soup and kasha, and the 
employees had to bring their own bread. 

Typhus was epidemic in the town, there were practically 
no disinfectants, soap or medicines, and the hospitals were 


not able to accommodate even a small percentage of the vic- 
tims. In the afternoon, when we were left to wander about 
by ourselves, we visited a civilian hospital with a capacity of 
one hundred beds, which contained two hundred and forty 
patients, all ill with typhus. They were lying on straw pallets 
on the floors in the wards and in the hallways. On many of 
the beds the linen had not been changed for over a month; 
some of the patients were lying in bed quite naked, or covered 
with filthy rags. 

In spite of the frightful appearance of everything the doc- 
tor told us that the death rate among the patients was not 
over ten per cent., as they were mostly peasants. Typhus has 
been endemic so long in Russia that the lower classes are 
semi-immunized and the death rate is always in inverse ratio 
to the intelligence of the population. Among persons of the 
upper class it is twenty per cent and it is highest among the 
medical personnel, who are usually in poor condition to resist 
attacks from epidemics, owing to the fact that they are all 
overworked and undernourished. The death rate among doc- 
tors in Russia during the past three years has been nearly 
forty per cent. 

Two of the most interesting places we visited in Vitebsk 
were the Army Political School and the Vitebsk branch of the 
Commissariat of Nationalities. The former was for Red 
Army officers, men and political commissars. It was in a 
large building formerly used as a gymnasium or high school 
by the Russian government. Daily classes were held in history, 
political economy, the history of the Socialist movement, 
Marxism, the principles of the Communist Dictatorship, and 
Communist propaganda workers were trained for field service 
in the army and among the peasant population. There were 
also classes in journalism for those who wished to acquire the 
art of writing the propaganda leaflets and brochures with 
which Russia is deluged at the present time, and art classes 
for designers of Bolshevik posters. We saw a rehearsal by 
the dramatic club, of a Revolutionary play which was to be 
given at the main theater in a few weeks. 

The Commissariat of Nationalities was divided into four 


sections, Russian, White Russian, Polish and Jewish. I 
found that the Soviet Government was placing no bar in the 
way of nationalistic feeling or aspirations. Each nationality 
was permitted to issue its own bulletins, and its own books and 
pamphlets, whenever the limited supply of paper and printers' 
ink permitted their publication, and the schools were conducted 
in all four languages. There was even a Polish school, where 
the little Poles, however, were taught to become good Com- 
munists. The churches were in the same position, and Catho- 
lic, Uniate and Orthodox churches flourished side by side 
with the synagogues. There had been no very great effort to 
introduce a strictly Communistic system; free trade was per- 
mitted because the Soviet stores were obviously unable to give 
the people merchandise; many people had been left in undis- 
turbed possession of their own homes, because there was no 
demand for lodgings, many of the population having emigrated 
further east owing to the proximity of Vitebsk to the war 
zone. The general impression I got was of great squalor and 
misery caused by the war and the blockade, of general con- 
fusion and impermanence, with no evidence of either the 
benefits or disadvantages caused by Soviet rule. 

We left Vitebsk that evening, traveling in the army staff 
car with the commissar's lady, who proved a very good- 
natured but stupid companion, and a soldier who was detailed 
to carry our luggage and wait on us generally. As far as 
Orscha we occupied an ordinary second-class compartment, 
but there we changed to a staff sleeping car which was to take 
us the thirty-six-hour journey to Moscow. At Orscha, where 
we arrived in the middle of the night, and had to wait for six 
hours, we found several regiments on the move. The station 
was literally one mass of filthy humanity. Every inch of floor 
space was covered with sleeping soldiers with indescribably 
dirty bedding rolls, bags and knapsacks. They slept over- 
lapping, and the air was foul beyond description. Fortunately 
I found my "Y" man, who had not yet gone to bed, and he 
let us into the recreation room which had been locked up for 
the night, where we slept on benches until it was time for 
our train to leave. 


Our quarters in the staff car were close, to say the least, 
but we were lucky, it seemed, to have those. A compartment 
for two was reserved for the four of us, and there, with the 
exception of a few venturesome visits to the toilet, we spent 
the next thirty-six hours. I occupied the lower berth, the 
doctor and the commissar's wife the upper berth, and the 
soldier slept on the floor. It was stiflingly hot, and the window 
was hermetically sealed. Standing in the corridor was impos- 
sible, because it was already filled with a solid mass of sol- 
diers, who insisted in defiance of discipline on occupying it. 
They made it almost impossible for us to open the door and 
our escort had to fight his way out to get hot water to make 
our tea from the samovar machines that are in operation at 
each station. 

The rest of the train, which was entirely composed of 
box cars, was packed, people even sitting on the roofs, and 
bumpers, and there were fights at every station between persons 
trying to get on and off. The country through which we 
passed was mostly flat and uninteresting, though it had a 
certain historical interest for me as the region through 
which Napoleon passed in his Russian campaign. I had fol- 
lowed pretty much the same general route as the Imperial 
jEagles, all the way from Borisov, where there was a column 
to commemorate his crossing of the Beresina, and a small house 
just outside the town, where tradition has it that he spent 
the night. 

We arrived at the Alexandrovsky Station, Moscow, early 
in the morning of the second day. There the army's respon- 
sibility for us ended, and as I had no credentials to stay in 
Moscow I asked the doctor to telephone to the Foreign Office 
to announce our arrival. She was told rather shortly that a 
representative of the Western Section would be sent to meet 
us and that we were not to leave the station until his arrival. 
Meanwhile I tried to spell out the news in the "Pravda," 
which I had purchased at the news stand, for a limited number 
of papers were on public sale in Moscow at that time, and I 
wondered what was coming next. So far so good, but the 
Foreign Office at least was utterly unaware of the fact that 


I had already spent two weeks in Soviet Russia. Whether my 
presence was known or not to the secret poHce of the Extraor- 
dinary Commission, they certainly had done nothing so far 
to stop me. 



In about half an hour I saw a small thin, dark, nervous- 
looking man with a pronounced stoop that made him appear 
almost like a hunchback enter the waiting room, glancing about 
as if he were looking for someone. "That is the man from 
the Foreign Office," I thought. In two seconds he had singled 
me out, and made straight for the corner where I was sitting. 
"Good morning," he said curtly in excellent English, "I'm 
Rosenberg, head of the Western Section of the Foreign Office. 
Will you be good enough to tell me how you got to Moscow?" 
I explained while he stood holding his despatch case, nervously 
biting his underlip, a characteristic gesture. When I had fin- 
ished he looked at me severely. "Do you know that you 
have done a perfectly illegal and very dangerous thing in 
coming to Moscow without permission?" he demanded. 

I replied that I had traveled openly with safe conducts 
from the Red Army, and that if it had chosen it could have 
stopped me and sent me back at any time. "That is true," he 
returned, "and for that reason we will give you a hearing. 
You are not entirely to blame, and those who were responsible 
for your entering the country will be held to account, but I 
warn you that you have rendered yourself liable to immediate 
deportation if not something worse" — this with a searching 
look that gave me a decidedly uncomfortable feeling — "come 
this way, please," and so saying he led the way to a small room 
which belonged to one of the station officials. Once there 
he carefully closed the door. 

"Now hand over your passport and all your papers," he 
said. I obeyed, pulling out letters of introduction, credentials, 
letters to private persons and the notes I had niade whiV with 
the Red Army. 



"Is that all?" he asked. I assured him that it was. 

"And who is this woman?" he inquired, turning to the 
little doctor, who had stood all the while, very red in the 
face, not daring to say a word. She handed over her papers, 
which he glanced at and tucked in his despatch case. 

Then he explained to me that the present policy of the 
Foreign Office was to admit but a small number of correspon- 
dents from bourgeois papers, and then only after their cre- 
dentials had been carefully passed on by Chicherin; that he 
had already refused admission to representatives of the Asso- 
ciated Press and the Evening Post, and that my presence would 
be a source of considerable embarrassment to the Foreign 
Office. I presented my side of the case as well as I knew how, 
and the upshot of it all was that he agreed to put the matter 
before Chicherin, and to permit me to remain in Moscow for 
the night, pending his decision. He retained the papers, but 
the rest of our luggage was packed into a waiting limousine, 
in which we were whirled away to the government guest house, 
where I was to be virtually under house arrest until the Foreign 
Office had decided what was to be done with me. 

My first glimpse of Moscow did not produce the impres- 
sion of utter desolation that most travelers experience on their 
arrival in Russia at the present time. It was probably because 
I had become accustomed by degrees to ruin and disrepair 
through long sojourn in war-ridden countries. I had been in 
Germany and Belgium immediately after the Armistice ; in the 
previous December I had passed through Vienna which was 
almost as badly off as Moscow; then I had spent over two 
months in Minsk and Vilna, which had been despoiled in 
turn by Germans and Bolsheviks, and finally turned over to the 
none too tender mercies of the Polish occupation. Boarded 
shops, deserted streets, houses with the paint peehng off their 
mouldy fagades, snow blocked pavements, long lines of pa- 
tient citizens waiting outside government shops for rations 
were no new sight to me. 

The people I saw on the street, every other one of whom 
was dragging a little sled laden with wood, bundles or provi- 
sions, were for the most part better dressed and seemed better 


nourished than the people I had seen in Minsk or Vienna. Out- 
side of the station and in the public squares there were plenty 
of sleighs, with their picturesque isvostchiks, or Russian cab- 
bies, in long coats of black, green, or blue cloth, belted with 
metal-studded girdles or barbaric colored sashes. Occasionally 
well dressed men and women dashed by in luxurious sleighs 
with tinkling bells and fur robes. The only sinister impression 
I received was from the flocks of ravens who hovered over the 
city, sat in the bare branches of the trees in the parks and on 
the eaves of all the buildings. They are as thick in Moscow 
during the winter as the pigeons around St. Paul's in London 
or in the Piazza of St. Mark in Venice, and almost as tame. 

All the public buildings were decorated with red flags and 
banners, for it was the second anniversary of the founding of 
the Red Army, and Moscow was in festival attire. Many of 
them displayed huge canvases showing brawny workers holding 
aloft the banner of the proletariat against a background of 
smoking factories and workmen's homes. At every comer 
were propaganda placards urging support of the working army, 
for an early peace with Poland was anticipated, peace with 
Esthonia had recently been signed, and the government was 
conducting a great campaign in support of Trotzki's plan for 
the re-mobilization of the Red Army in a vast scheme of recon- 

Here and there were posters against the Entente, showing 
the capitalists of the world sitting on their money bags and 
lording it over the workers, Lloyd George handing out toy 
battleships and cannon to Yudenitch and Denikin, caricatures 
of the "Big Four" at Versailles, and various other cartoons 
of that character. Most of them were crudely but vigorously 
drawn, startling as to color and design, but remarkably direct 
in their conveyance of a concrete idea. 

We passed swiftly down the Tverskaya, Moscow's former 
shopping thoroughfare, into the Kusnetsky Most, where were 
formerly the great jewelers, and the most exclusive shops, up 
the Miasnitskaya, where I noticed the closed offices of the 
Westinghouse Company and the Singer Sewing Machine, and 
into a small side street, the Mali Haritonevski, where we 


stopped before number ten, the government guest house which 
was to be my home, though I did not reahze it at the time, 
with a few interludes, for eight months. 

It had been the private residence of a German named 
Roelich, who was one of Moscow's richest merchants. Though 
it had suffered severely in the anti-German riots of 191 5, 
when it was attacked by a mob, and had been further despoiled 
during the early days of disorder following the October Revo- 
lution, it was still comfortably, even luxuriously, furnished. 
We were taken into a beautiful oak-paneled dining room where 
our baggage was courteously searched by an employee of the 
Foreign Office. I was allowed to retain my typewriter, and 
nothing was taken but my kodak and films. After this for- 
mality we were shown to a large room with a brass bed with 
box springs which looked good to me after my Red Army 
experiences, comfortable arm chairs, an electric bed lamp, 
and an enormous sofa which was to serve as the bed for the 

Soon dinner was announced, and in the dining room I met 
the other foreign guests, Michael Farbman, then correspondent 
of the Chicago Daily News, a Norwegian business man named 
Jonas Lied, and a Korean, Pak, who was the official delegate 
to Russia of the Korean Socialist party. There were also 
several Russians, among whom was a man called Siriazhnikov, 
who had lived for some time in the United States and organized 
the first Russian cooperatives on the Pacific Coast. The re- 
maining guests were several Russians employed in the Foreign 
Office and a potentate from Boukhara who ate all his meals, 
prepared by a native attendant, in his room. He had many 
visitors, but rarely appeared himself, except to flit to and fro 
from his bath wearing a gorgeous smoking jacket, a round 
embroidered cap and stealthy velvet slippers. 

Dinner, which was typical of the meals served in other 
guest houses and hotels for government employees, was as 
follows : A thin meat soup, thickened with cereal or noodles 
made of rye flour, mashed potatoes or kasha, tea, black bread 
and sugar. It was served at two o'clock. Supper, at nine 
o'clock, consisted of Soviet macaroni, kasha or mashed pota- 


toes, black bread and tea. Breakfast, between nine and ten, was 
tea or Soviet coffee, black bread and margarine or butter, and 
two teaspoons of sugar. This was substantially my diet for 
my entire stay, except when I purchased eggs, milk, fruit or 
other luxuries in the markets, or when I was invited to private 
homes or patronized illegal restaurants. 

Once or twice a week our dinner menu was varied by the 
addition of boiled salt pork, horse or mutton, either as a sepa- 
rate dish, or, more often, incorporated sparingly in the mashed 
potatoes. Occasionally we had a small tin of canned fish or a 
piece of cheese for supper, and about once in two weeks we 
had stewed fruit in season. In winter it was Russian cran- 
berries, thickened with potato flour and flavored with saccha- 
rin. When sugar was scarce we had two bonbons with our 
tea instead of sugar. This was far better than the average 
ration of the ordinary citizen in Moscow at that time. We also 
received as part of our ration twenty-five cigarettes every other 

Despite the uncertainty as to my fate I spent the first 
evening very agreeably, and enjoyed a fine rest in the comfor- 
table bed. When I asked if I might take a bath in the beautiful 
tiled bathroom I was told that there was hot water every 
Wednesday, and that I would have to wait until then if I 
wanted it hot. The scramble for the bath on Wednesdays 
was very amusing. No one made any engagements for that 
afternoon if possible, as hot water was on tap only from 
twelve noon till eight in the evening, and it was necessary to 
hang around and watch for your turn. 

I was fully prepared to do my own chamberwork the next 
morning, as I had imagined that in Soviet Russia there were 
no servants, but I discovered that we had four. 

The heavy work was done by prisoners who were sen- 
tenced to compulsory labor for speculation or violation of 
other decrees of the Soviet Government. They came in squads 
periodically with armed guards, and washed floors and win- 
dows. The house servants were apparently not subject to the 
rules regulating the employment of labor, for they worked 
from eight in the morning till eleven or twelve at night, and 


scarcely ever had any time off. Occasionally they were given 
tickets to the theater. They received a small stipend, their 
clothes, and the regular workers' payok or rations, supple- 
mented by tips and presents of food from the foreign guests. 
The laundress slaved from early morning till late evening 
doing all the house wash as well as the personal laundry of the 
guests, who varied in number from ten to fourteen. 

Once during the summer the Foreign Office attempted to 
cut off their payok on the ground that as many of the guests 
frequently stayed out for meals what was left over from our 
table would be sufficient for them, but they struck, and kept 
their rations, which they sent home to their families. 

This state of affairs struck me as rather inconsistent, but 
I later found that the servant class, like many other bourgeois 
institutions, had by no means disappeared in Russia. Many of 
my Russian friends kept at least one maid, and I knew of 
several commissars who did the same. 

Once I received a visit from a girl who had been employed 
at the Savoy Hotel, also a government guest house, where I 
spent several weeks. She was a Lett, and was anxious to 
secure a position as cook to the Russian mission, then leaving 
for Riga with a retinue of servants to negotiate peace with 
Poland. She asked me to recommend her to Yoffe, chief of 
the mission, who often visited the Haritonevski, and gave as a 
reference Mme. Steklov, wife of the editor of the Isvestia, with 
whom she had lived for over a year, and she told me that they 
employed three servants. The Trotzkis also keep several serv- 
ants, and I often saw the Trotzki children in a private victoria 
with a very correct looking coachman driving through the 
streets of Moscow. 

Of course all this is in direct contradiction to Marxian 
theories, but the Communists in practice are not averse to 
accepting the services of that portion of the proletariat which 
has not yet become class conscious, and is perfectly content 
to remain as "hired help.' In justice to Soviet principles it 
must be said, however, that the authorities recognize the fact 
that brain workers must have time free for work in their 
special field, and that they do not object to the employment 


of labor to do the manual tasks for those engaged in more 
important activities. 

Eventually, in an ideal Communist state, the Communists say, 
there will be no need for labor of this class. All meals will 
be served in the public dining rooms, all washing done in the 
community laundries, children will be all cared for in Soviet 
homes and nurseries, apartments heated from a central plant, 
and cleaned by government workers. But at present it is im- 
possible to organize things on this basis. Domestic service is 
a relic of capitalism which will disappear in due time, but mean- 
while it is not worth while to regulate it, as it is only a tem- 
porary phase. 

Shortly after breakfast Rosenberg appeared with a car, 
and took me to the Foreign Office, where I was told that 
Chicherin had determined to allow me to remain in Moscow 
for two weeks. I sent a radio to the Associated Press an- 
nouncing my arrival, arranged for an interview with Chicherin 
for the next day, and settled down to life in my new quarters, 
which were most comfortable. We had a billiard room, and 
there was a big garden behind the house, to which access was 
had from a terrace opening out of the dining room. The 
table linen was of the best, and we used real silver forks and 
knives for some time, when some of the cutlery was stolen, 
which resulted in the substitution of plated ware. Our bed 
linen was changed every two weeks, and all our laundry was 
done in the house. At first we paid nothing at all for this 
service, but afterwards the Foreign Office instituted a tariff 
of seven hundred and fifty roubles a day, explaining rather 
naively as the reason that Soviet emissaries in other countries 
were invariably charged for their accommodations. 


On the morning after my arrival, having been provided 
with the necessary documents of identity, I started to take a 
walk through the town, and happened to see a most picturesque 
ceremony, the funeral of the Commissar of Posts and Tele- 
graphs. It took place from the building of the Moscow 
Soviet, a beautiful early nineteenth century structure facing 
what is now known as the Soviet square, which is adorned with 
a new monument commemorating the Revolution. He was 
to be buried in the Red Square, at the base of the Kremlin, 
with the victims of the October Revolution. Long before the 
time appointed for the funeral the employees of the various 
departments of the commissariat began to assemble in the 
square, each section carrying its own banner draped in black. 
There must have been several thousand of them. All along 
the route of the cortege Red Armists, as the Red Army soldiers 
are called in Russia, were stationed at intervals, and cavalry- 
men with khaki coats and the bright pink trousers of the old 
imperial cavalry dashed up and down giving orders, and hold- 
ing back the crowds which began to gather early from all direc- 
tions. Then delegations from workmen's clubs and trades 
unions commenced to arrive carrying banners and standards; 
among them I even noticed an Anarchists' Club with a huge 
black flag, curiously somber and menacing in the blur of red. 

An old white hearse, harnessed with six white horses, and 
attended by six professional pallbearers in white frock coats 
and gloves and antiquated white silk beaver hats, was waiting 
to receive the coffin, but when it emerged from the building, 
carried on the shoulders of ten sturdy Red Armists, covered 
with a red flag like a huge blood spot, I could not help thinking 
how out of place and incongruous it would look on the preten- 



tious bier that had probably carried many an Imperial func- 
tionary to his last resting place. 

The commissar's comrades evidently thought so too, for 
they never even glanced in the direction of the waiting hearse 
with its plumes and outriders, but turned slowly down the 
street, followed by the huge silent cortege with bared heads. In 
front of the coffin marched a Red Army band, playing the 
glorious funeral march of the Nihilists, which has been adopted 
by the Communists as their own. At intervals other bands 
took up the hymn, one by one, as they filed into line. 

In the Red Square a guard of honor was assembled around 
the open grave, and the Commissar was laid to rest with his 
dead comrades without benefit of clergy, according to Karl 
Marx, Kamenev, the president of the Moscow Soviet, and 
other speakers paying warm tributes to his singleness of 
purpose and devotion to the cause of Communism. The 
grave was filled, the bare earth covered with a mass of green 
wreaths and Red streamers, and the simple ceremony was 
over. A little more than half a year later another funeral 
took place in the Red Square, but I was not there to see it, 
being at that time in prison. It was that of John Reed, the 
leader of the American Communist party. 

My interview with Chicherin took place on the evening of 
my second day in Moscow. The appointment was at twelve 
o'clock, for Chicherin only works at night, and it was nearly 
two before I was finally shown into his room, where he sat 
in front of a huge table desk buried under an avalanche of 
documents and papers. I had expected to see a tall, self-confi- 
dent, rather masterful looking person, but instead I saw a thin, 
delicate looking man of about forty-eight, with sandy hair, 
decidedly thin around the temples, and a small pointed blond 
beard and mustache. Around his neck was a woolen muflfler 
which almost concealed his chin. During the entire winter 
and well into the spring I never saw him without it. His pale 
greenish-blue eyes had the strained expression that comes from 
overwork, and as he talked to me he kept interlacing his long 
sensitive fingers, that, without a further glance at his physi- 
ognomy, proclaimed him what he essentially is, a man of cul- 


ture and a gentleman. There seem to be so many misapprehen- 
sions about many of the People's Commissars that I will re- 
peat here what should be known to all intelligent persons, that 
Chicherin, like many leading Communists, is a man of very 
good family, and a real Russian. He is related by marriage to 
several old Polish families, among them that of Count Czapski, 
who was at one time secretary to Mr. Hugh Gibson, our minis- 
ter to Poland. His cousin, Countess Plater, whom I met in 
Vilna, was in the habit of referring to him as "That devil, 
my cousin Chicherin," but there was nothing diabolical about 
his appearance as he sat at his desk facing me, though he at 
once gave me the impression of being an exceedingly subtle 
personality. He spoke English almost as well as an Eng- 

After asking me how I had managed to fool the Foreign 
Office by coming uninvited into Russia and telling me that in 
spite of my illegal status he had decided to permit me to take 
up my work as correspondent in Moscow, we proceeded to talk 
about other things. While inflexible in his devotion to Com- 
munism, I believe that Chicherin has always been in favor of 
a more liberal policy with regard to the foreign affairs than 
many of his colleagues, but things often get beyond his control, 
and he is not always listened to. Several times while I was 
in Moscow he was severely censured by the more intransi- 
geant Communists, and his report on his foreign policy to the 
Moscow Soviet last year was carried by an insignificant mi- 
nority. At the same time he is the only man in Russia today 
who has the experience and knowledge to handle the affairs 
of the Foreign Office. His notes are often masterpieces in 
their way, and he has a genius for showing up the weak side 
of European diplomatists. I consider that when it came to the 
matter of the retort courteous in the correspondence between 
Lord Curzon and Chicherin that Chicherin usually got the 
better of his British opponent. He is less inclined than some 
of his fellow commissars to have a supreme disregard for 
truth in his statements, though he often sanctions the publi- 
cation of utterly misleading reports in the Soviet bulletins. 

For example, last year when it was reported in the Soviet 


wireless that the cathedral of St. Vladimir and the water works 
at Kiev had been blown up by the retreating Poles, he never 
contradicted it, though it was later proved to be false. I also 
tried to get through him confirmation of the published report 
that officers of the American Red Cross with the Polish Army 
had refused to attend the Red Army wounded, but failed. 
However, after all this is not Chicherin's business. He does 
actually censor and supervise matter sent out to the foreign 
press, but this is officially the responsibility of the government 
news agency, the Rosta, of which I shall have more to say later 

My conversation with Chicherin was chiefly confined to 
the prospects of peace with Poland, for which he confidently 
hoped at that time, and for which I believe he was sincerely 
working. That his efforts were blocked was due principally 
to the attitude of the Poles themselves, backed by France and 
England, and in part to other causes originating in Russia. He 
regarded the attitude of America as frankly inconsistent, declar- 
ing that President Wilson had been the first to advocate the 
principle of self-determination and the first to depart from it. 
Russia, he said, was the only country that had consistently lived 
by this doctrine. He was prepared to make important conces- 
sions to Poland in return for peace, which he regarded as vital 
at the moment, and stated that he wished to see the country free 
to devote itself to the problems of economic reconstruction. 
Beside Chicherin the men who have the most flexible and 
farseeing minds among those who are directing the affairs of 
the Soviet Republic are Lenin, Krassin, and Karl Radek. 

Shortly after my talk with Chicherin I had an interview 
with Krassin, who was then Commissar of Ways and Com- 
munications, but who expected soon to leave on his London 
mission. He made an exceedingly frank and interesting state- 
ment of the desperate state of the Russian railroads, expressed 
the hope of a trade agreement with England and America, and 
outlined the policy of the government towards concessions. 
There would be no difficulty, he said, for Russia, in doing busi- 
ness with foreign nations, once a standard of value had been 
fixed as the basis of payment or exchange. Instead of trans- 


acting business with a number of small capitalists, foreign 
interests would be dealing with one great capitalist, the Soviet 
Republic. While he did not believe there were enough raw 
materials on hand to begin trade to any great extent with out- 
side countries, he was of the opinion that if Russia were given 
peace, the possibility of economic and industrial development 
and allowed to purchase the locomotives, for which he claimed 
there was sufficient gold on hand, she would soon be able to 
furnish raw materials, though he considered that even under 
the most favorable circumstances it would be many years before 
Russia could produce any manufactured articles for export. 

He spoke excellent German, which was natural, for he 
spent many years in Germany, and for some time was general 
agent of the Siemens Electric Company of Berlin, which, with 
the General Electric Company, formerly furnished practically 
all electrical supplies and machinery used in Russia. He is 
a man of education and refinement, and there is nothing about 
him to suggest the Jew, although it has been said that he 
is of Jewish ancestry. 

A few days later I saw Karl Radek, who is the "Peck's 
Bad Boy" of the Soviet Government, always making indiscreet 
utterances, always getting into trouble and wriggling out again 
with his clever tongue, but with such wit and talent as a publi- 
cist and propagandist that the Soviet Government cannot do 
without him. He is a Polish Jew, and was active in the Spar- 
ticist revolts in Germany in 191 9, and only adopted Russia 
after his release from prison in Berlin in the summer of that 

We chatted for a while about German affairs, and then 
he began with the most amazing frankness to discuss the Polish 
question, declaring that Poland wanted the war, but even if 
she did not, she would be indirectly provoked to it by Russia, 
for whom it was absolutely essential to have contact with 
Germany. This could only be done by the conquest of Poland, 
not so much by arms as by propaganda, and he was firmly 
convinced that an invasion would be followed by a revolution 
in Poland. If the German Communist revolution did not come 
off he believed that a profitable deal could be made with the 


German Junkers to join with Russia against the Entente. For 
the future he envisaged a possible alliance of Germany and 
Russia into which perhaps the United States would be drawn as 
a protection against the "yellow menace" of Japan, He also had 
a vision of the development of South America into a great 
power, which, backed by England, would rob America of her 
foreign trade and the domination of the Western Hemisphere. 

It was a most entertaining interview. I wrote it, and, as 
required, I gave one copy to the press censorship of the Foreign 
Office for revision, and sent the other to Radek for correction. 
Needless to say I never received either back again. When I 
called Radek up by telephone he told me that he had O. K.'d 
my copy and returned it to the Foreign Office, but it got 
mysteriously lost, and the interview was never put on the 

Meanwhile I had taken up my routine as Moscow cor- 
respondent of the Associated Press, my work centering in 
the Western Section of the Foreign Office under Rosenberg, 
who was in charge of all press correspondents. Rosenberg 
was generally unpopular with correspondents. In the first 
place, he was physically unprepossessing, typically Jewish in 
appearance, with vile manners, and a frank contempt for 
bourgeois ideals, which he was at no pains to conceal. He had 
no conception of newspaper ethics, and regarded newspaper 
work as simply an arm of propaganda. Objective statements 
or constructive criticism did not appeal to him. 

Once I summarized the main facts in a very interesting 
article on the situation of Russian railroads, which had ap- 
peared in Economic Life, emphasizing certain data which 
seemed to me important, and drawing my own conclusions, in 
my radio telegram. At the same time another story was 
written by an American newspaper man then in Moscow, based 
on the same facts, but drawing conclusions more favorable to 
the Soviet Government. I turned in my dispatch, the other 
correspondent did the same. Rosenberg read them both, then 
he turned to me and said, "Mrs. Harrison, your article is per- 
fectly correct in every particular, but I prefer Mr. Blank's ar- 
ticle. It is more favorable to us. If they both came out 


in the American press at the same time it might produce a 
bad impression. I will send his first and hold yours for 
twenty-four hours." I 

He was also ignorant of current newspaper phraseology 
in America and was suspicious of every unusual expression. 
In one of my stories dealing with the trades unions I used the 
expression "labor turnover." He was quite convinced that I 
meant that there was a tendency towards counter-revolution 
in the unions, and I had a very difficult time to explain away 
the idea. At the same time, after a while I grew to admire 
his savage loyalty, his fanatical devotion to Communism, for 
he was absolutely sincere and single-hearted in his work for 
the cause, and he never spared himself. Like Chicherin, he 
lived simply at the Hotel Metropole, never giving a thought 
to his own health or comfort, and he was a constant sufferer 
from a serious form of anaemia that threatened to develop 
into tuberculosis. 

Besides Rosenberg, I soon made the acquaintance of many 
other employees of the Foreign Office. They were an inter- 
esting lot, many of them trained in the Imperial diplomatic 
service, others people who had drifted into Russia for various 
reasons, some who had been involuntarily detained and who 
preferred service with the Soviet Government to sitting in 
prison. On the staff of the Western Section was "Joe Fein- 
berg," a well-known Jewish Socialist agitator from London, 
who spoke English better than he did Russian, He acted as 
interpreter for the British Labor delegation, and was a red-hot 
Communist to such an extent that he usually expressed his 
feelings by wearing a red shirt. Therefore I christened him 
Garibaldi II. Then there was Rozinsky, also an East Side 
London Jew, who was interpreter for many of the English 
and American correspondents. At times his knowledge of 
English stood him in good stead for other purposes than in- 
terpreting, as when, for example, in the uniform of a Red 
Armist he accompanied Mr. Pate and Mr. Walker of the 
American Relief Administration on their journey from Minsk 
to Moscow. They had received permission from the Soviet 
authorities during the Polish armistice negotiations to go to 


Moscow for a preliminary survey with a view to undertaking 
relief work in Russia, and stayed for ten days at my guest 
house. When they pointed out their escort, telling me that he 
was a nice little fellow but it was a pity he spoke no English, 
I was greatly amused. 

Second in command to Chicherin was Kharakhan, who was 
sent, after the signing of the peace treaty, as the Soviet emis- 
sary to Poland. He is an Armenian, and is known in Moscow 
as "Kharakhan the Beautiful" on account of his undeniable 
good looks. He is one of the new aristocracy among the 
commissars and lives in the palace of the former Sugar King 
Horitonev, where Claire Sheridan, Washington Vanderlip, 
Arthur Ransome, the English writer, George Lansbury, of the 
Daily Herald, and other foreigners who were 'especially hon- 
ored guests of the Soviet Government lived during their stay in 
Moscow. He came to the Foreign Office every day in the 
beautiful Rolls Royce reserved for his exclusive use. Chi- 
cherin, on the other hand, used to get a car when he needed 
one, from the garage of the Central Executive Committee. 
Once, I remember, he showed up late at a very important 
meeting because he was unable to get a car. 

The Foreign Office is situated in a wing of the former 
Hotel Metropole, on the square facing the Grand Opera 
house. The hotel proper, now known as the Second House of 
the Soviets, is used by Soviet employees and commissars. The 
offices, mostly converted bedrooms, are crowded and not 
overly convenient, and a number of the women employees sleep 
on the mezzanine floor, where are also the offices of the Western 
Section. There, during the day, credentials and passports of 
arriving and departing foreigners were examined by Rosen- 
berg and his assistant. They actually obtained leave to depart 
or a "permis de sejour," from another department presided 
over by Yakobovitch, whose pretty secretary. Mile. Lov, is 
half English, From six until nine or ten in the evening the 
office was closed, and at about eleven o'clock the press cor- 
respondents began to gather and wait, gossiping meanwhile, 
for the official Soviet bulletin in French, which appeared at 
midnight. If we had had any interviews or collected any in- 


formation during the day -^-e brought our finished stories at 
that time and submitted them to Rosenberg for his approval, 
otherw-ise we waited for the news biilletin, which was a transla- 
tion of the most important items and leading articles in the 
daily papers, together with the text of Chicherin's notes and 
military- bulletins from the Polish and Wrangel fronts. 

We sat in a small room, the floor of which was covered 
with a superb oriental rug much too large, furnished with a 
nondescript collection of chairs and sofas taken from rooms 
of the hotel, and a big deal table. Later we were given the 
room next door, formerly the sitting room of a siite de luxe. 
It possessed a marble top table, an ornate Florentine mirror, 
gilded pseudo Louis Fifteenth fiimiture covered with green 
brocade, and a boudoir lamp with a yellow silk shade. Into 
these incongruous surroimdings we brought several broken 
down typewriters from the next room and t}-peJ our radio 
messages. At twelve o'clock a samovar, glasses and Soviet 
tea were brought in. I sometimes contributed real tea, other 
correspondents brought sugar, and we often had ver>' jolly 
midnight parties. Among the correspondents in these early 
days were Griffin Barry, an -\merican who was writing for 
the London Daily Herald, a man from the Londan Chronicle 
who was doing Russia because he had been told to do so, and 
was bored to death with the whole business ; John Claj-ton of 
the Chicago Tribune; Lambert of the London Express, and 
George Lansbury, owner of the Herald. Mr. Lansbury was 
a charming, but most credulous old gentleman. His Com- 
munism, which was based on a literal interpretation of the 
teachings of Christianity-, rather than on the principles of Karl 
Marx, was of the idealistic tv-pe. He believed implicitly every- 
thing that was told him, and surrounded it with a Uttle halo 
of his own making. Poor Lansbur}-, who was a very good 
friend of the So^^et Government, was made fim of behind 
his back by the more materialistic Conmiunists ; a quotation 
from a speech he made after his return to England in which he 
was reported to have said, "All is well with Russia, the churches 
are still open,'" caused great merriment at the Foreign Office. 
Our despatches to our papers, after being read by Rosen- 


berg, who often made changes or erasures, were sent to 
Chicherin for approval, with the result that there were some- 
times further cuts. Then they had to pass the "Militar}- 
Censorship," which meant in plain English that they were 
subjected to the scrutiny of an agent of the Extraordinary' 
Commission, after which such portions as were considered tit 
to print were sent out by the government radio, to take their 
chances, if favorable to the Soviet Government, of being picked 
up and intercepted by various governments en route. The 
Soviet Government is not entirely to blame for the fact that so 
little of the truth has gotten out about Russia. In many in- 
stances perfectly fair despatches. giWng absolutely truthful 
accounts of actual conditions are intercepted, marked secret and 
filed in the records of Downing Street, the \\'ilhelm Strasse or 
the Quai d'Orsay. From the Russian end it was impossible 
for us to write amthing except straight news or interviews 
unless we went in for tendential stuff favorable to Communism. 
The Foreign Office told us quite frankly, and tmforrunately 
there was some truth in the statement, that fair messages were 
often garbled and changed so as to be \-iolent anti-Bolshevik 

After some time I acquired a better knowledge of Rus- 
sian, and I foimd that through the Rosta, the Russian govern- 
ment news agency. I could get bulletins of the news items to 
appear in the next morning papers, thereby beating the other 
foreign correspondents b}- twenty-four hours on spot news ; 
and, having received permission from Chicherin. I went 
to the Central Office of the Rosta in the Lubianka, cop}-ing 
and translating anNthing that might be of interest to the out- 
side world. There, too, I got an insight not to be had in any 
other way of what was going on in various parts of Russia. 
The Rosta has agencies in ever}- town and cit}- and receives 
full reports of local happenings all over the countn.-. There 
were often accounts of strikes, peasant uprisings, meetings and 
events imimportant in themselves, but straws pointing which 
way the wind in the pro^-inces was blo-vs-ing. which were either 
suppressed for various reasons, or not printed for lack of 
room in the next day's papers, and I was able to read them alL 


I fancy that this was one of the activities which later made me 
unpopular with the Extraordinary Commission. 

The Rosta, which derives its name from its official title, 
The Russian Socialist Telegraph Agency, is undoubtedly the 
most remarkable organization of its kind in the world. It 
is not only devoted to the collecting and collating of news, but 
to educational and cultural work, and it is the chief arm of the 
Communist propaganda system. I obtained an excellent idea 
of the tremendous scope of the work of the Rosta from my 
visit to an exhibition in the Kremlin, which was intended only 
for the members of the Ninth Communist Convention then in 
session. I went with Francis McCullagh, a well-known Eng- 
lish journalist, who had been with General Knox's Mission 
in Siberia, as an Intelligence Officer, and had been caught at 
Omsk in the Kolchak retreat, where he resumed his civilian 
status and came to Moscow as correspondent of the Man- 
chester Guardian. I shall later tell how Mr. McCullagh and 
I both got into prison at the same time, owing to our prying 

We had met Kerzhentsev, head of the Rosta, at the office 
in the Lubianka, and he had told us of the exhibition. By 
using his name we felt sure that we would have no difficulty 
in getting into the exhibition if we could once get to the 
Kremlin. Admission to the Kremlin was exceedingly difficult 
to obtain, and no one, from the most important commissar 
to the humblest peasant bringing in food supplies, can get 
through one of its well guarded gates without proper creden- 
tials. I had been there once, however, to see Radek; so, when 
I applied at the gate, Mr. McCullagh and I showed our 
credentials as foreign journalists, stating at the same time 
that we had an appointment with Radek. The girl who 
issued permits at the gate said that she would call him up. If 
she had succeeded in getting him I had determined to tell him 
that I wished to discuss some points in our previous inter- 
view before sending it out. But I was banking on the fact that 
it was very difficult to get telephone connections and that she 
would probably become discouraged and let us in anyway. 
This was exactly what happened. We soon found our- 


selves inside the sacred enclosure and located the exhibition 
in one of the rooms of the Commissariat of Justice. 

The walls were covered with charts and diagrams showing 
the branches of the Rosta all over the country. Articles were 
tabulated and classified, showing the results produced. The 
name of every correspondent was given with the number of 
his published articles, and his efficiency was estimated according 
to a scientific percentage system. The Rosta from its central 
office in the Lubianka, issues all the press matter used in 
Russia; its activities embrace not only the principal news- 
papers, such as the Praz^da, Isz'estia_, Economic Life, Com- 
munistic Work, Byednotd, but the innumerable provincial 
papers, and the wall newspapers, of which there are over four 
hundred. The last named are pasted in railroad stations, gov- 
ernment offices and public places and are usually devoted to 
special propaganda. There were also propaganda issues of 
the principal papers written to produce a certain effect at a 
given time. Provincial correspondents of the Rosta send in 
their news items by radio. These are edited and colored with 
the necessary propaganda tint and returned for local publica- 
tion. Foreign news is dealt with in the same manner, and 
the morale of the people is largely kept up by systematic re- 
ports of revolutions and labor crises in other countries, de- 
signed to produce the impression of the unity of the world 

One of the activities of the Rosta is the oral newspaper. 
This is used in country districts where the peasants are still 
for the most part illiterate. On certain days at an appointed 
time an agent of the Rosta reads aloud to the assembled 
peasants the important news of the day, interpreting it after 
his own fashion. These agents are invariably Communists 
and trained propaganda workers. Among the journalists who 
write for the Rosta are many old Russian newspaper men. 
In addition it employs the services of a great many former 
lawyers, and some of the best technical and professional men 
in the country. As a rule these men are poorly paid, and they 
are obliged to have several jobs in order to earn a living. 
I knew a former newspaper man in Moscow, who worked as 


one of the night editors at the Central Bureau of the Rosta. 
In addition he gave lectures on journalism in the courses of 
the Proletcult, and wrote propaganda pamphlets for the Centro 
Pechati, the central government printing bureau, under the 
Department of Education. By this means he managed to make 
enough, working fourteen or fifteen hours a day, to keep 
body and soul together. 

The Soviet newspapers are usually very serious affairs. 
There are no sensational stories, no accounts of murders or 
conjugal infidelities. They are conducted first with a view 
to propaganda, second with a view to education, culture and 
technical information. The headlines are often extraordi- 
narily effective. For example the section devoted to economic 
reconstruction is headed "The Working Front." Among the 
most popular of the means employed by the Rosta for the 
spread of Communist propaganda are cartoons illustrating 
current events. They are posted weekly in all large towns 
and cities and at several points in Moscow. They are done 
with water colors, in crude tints on enormous sheets of wrap- 
ping paper, and are somewhat Cubistic in character. Under- 
neath each cartoon are pungent comments and witticisms which 
everybody can understand. 

The Bolsheviks will undoubtedly have to get out a diction- 
ary in the near future. They have made excellent and impor- 
tant reforms in spelling such as inaugurating the use of only 
two forms of the letter "i," where formerly four were used; 
one letter "e," instead of three, and they have abolished the 
"tvyordisnak,'' the hard sign formerly used after words 
terminating in hard consonants. In many instances they have 
also simplified spelling. For this all Russians and all for- 
eigners who study the language certainly owe them a debt of 
gratitude. On the other hand they have instituted a number 
of abbreviations for the names of commissariats and govern- 
mental departments which make it almost impossible for the 
uninitiated to read the newspapers. I will give a few examples. 
The Commissariat of Public Health, ''Narodni Commissariat 
Zdravoochranenya," is called "Narkomsdrav" ; the Food Com- 
missariat, "Narodni Commissariat Prodovolstvya," is "Nar- 


komprod." Its provincial branches are the "Gubprodkoms," 
"Gubiernskii Prodovolstvennii Kommiteti.' The Supreme 
Economic Council, ''Vuische Soviet Narodnovo Hozaistva," is 
the "Sovnarhos." 

News is distributed by radio or wireless telephone. The 
transmitting station for sending news abroad and to the prov- 
inces is the great wireless station at Hodinka in the suburbs 
of Moscow which I visited with Nikolaiev, the superintendent, 
who was formerly employed at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. 
There I saw a splendid apparatus in perfect working order, 
in communication with four hundred and fifty radio stations 
in Russia, with Copenhagen, Nauen, Paris, Peterhead, Bo- 
logna and many other stations throughout the world. New 
radio stations were being constructed all over Russia and the 
system when completed will comprise eight hundred and 
fifty stations. 

Incoming messages were received at Dyetskoe Selo, the 
new name for Tzarskoe Selo, a suburb of Petrograd, formerly 
the summer home of the Imperial family, and from there 
passed first through the military censorship, then to the office 
of the Rosta and finally all over Russia. The antennae of the 
wireless station at Dyetskoe Selo are synchronized so as to 
pick up messages from the wireless stations of any country, 
and it employs a corps of experts who are able to decipher 
practically every code in use at the present time. 

Outgoing messages were treated in the same manner. 
Many local messages were handled by wireless telephone, 
which the Bolsheviks have developed extensively during the last 
few years. While at Hodinka I was allowed to talk to the 
operator in Tashkend, eight hundred versts from Moscow. 

When I had finished my work for the night at the Foreign 
Office I returned to the Horitonevski on foot, frequently alone, 
rarely earlier than two or three in the morning. I continued 
to do this with few interruptions for eight months, and during 
that entire time I was never once spoken to or molested in any 
way on the street, nor did I ever see anyone else stopped or 
interfered with. Order was absolutely preserved by the militia- 
men who patrolled the streets, instead of policemen, with 


rifles instead of revolvers. At first I often heard shots and 
imagined that they were fired at nocturnal marauders, but I 
later discovered that it was the militiamen's way of signalling 
to one another, replacing the policemen's whistles in use in 
other countries. Robberies on a large scale were very rare, 
though there was a great deal of petty thievery, particularly 
in the markets. 

After getting home in the wee small hours we were often 
hungry, and adjourned to my room, where I made scrambled 
eggs on a little coal oil stove, tea, and occasionally when some- 
one had recently arrived from abroad, cocoa. Our Russian 
friends used to join us at these parties, and we frequently 
talked till it was nearly light, discussing everything under the 
sun. The Russians are great all-night sitters, and everyone 
falls naturally into the same habit in Russia. 


During my first weeks in Moscow I did very largely the 
things that are done by every other foreigner, visiting Soviet 
institutions, particularly schools, hospitals, Soviet stores and 
public dining rooms, and getting a very good idea of the edu- 
cational, public health and rationing systems. Later I made 
some unofficial visits to these places on my own account and 
supplemented what I had learned from official sources by my 
own observations, and conversations with private individuals. 

It happened that during the first part of my stay there was a 
succession of public meetings and congresses, which gave me an 
insight into the workings of the Communist party machine. 
Shortly after my arrival the elections for the Moscow Soviet 
took place, resulting in a Communist membership of over 
twelve hundred out of the fifteen hundred members. One 
hundred and forty-eight Mensheviks were elected, and the 
remainder were non-partisans. There were no independent 
party lists except that of the Mensheviks. Voting, which was 
conducted under the Soviet industrial franchise system, was 
by acclamation, and such was the domination of the Com- 
munist element that few people dared to hold up their hands 
against the Communist candidates. Those who were particu- 
larly strong minded simply refrained from voting, that was 
all. In order to secure an overwhelming majority for the 
government, offices where there were a number of non-parti- 
sans or opposition Socialist voters were grouped with others 
where Communists predominated. For example, employees 
of the Moscow Food Administration voted with the employees 
of the Moscow branch of the Checka, the Extraordinary Com- 

At the open meeting of the Moscow Soviet, which was held 



in the Opera House, I had my first glimpse of Lenin, who made 
the opening address. It was devoted to the government's pro- 
gram for reconstruction, which was then occupying attention to 
the exclusion of nearly everything else. He told of the or- 
ganization of the Working Army, of the project of the govern- 
ment to institute one-man control by experts in factories in~ 
stead of the Work Councils, and gave a clear, impartial picture 
of the exigencies of the economic situation. When I saw him 
come out on the stage my first feeling was one of disappoint- 
ment. He is a short, thick set, unimposing looking little man, 
with colorless hair and complexion, a small, pointed beard, 
piercing gray-blue eyes, and a quiet, unemotional, almost monot- 
onous manner of delivery. He wore a suit of rough English 
tweeds, and looked like nothing so much as a fairly prosperous, 
middle class business man. After the first few words, how- 
ever, I, like everyone else, began to listen attentively. It was 
not magnetic eloquence that held me, it was the impression of 
tremendous sincerity, utter self-confidence and quiet power 
that Lenin creates. He is so absolutely sure of himself and of 
his idea, so utterly logical in hit Auctions. In his writings and 
brochures Lenin is often dry and tedious, and uses unusual 
words and involved expressions, but when he speaks to the peo- 
ple he has a talent for picking out the simplest possible words 
to express his meaning, without, however, degenerating into 
colloquialisms. Of all public speakers in Russia he is the 
easiest for a foreigner to follow and understand. 

The Soviet meeting was planned with the instinct for dra- 
matic effect which is strong in every Russian. Red flags were 
everywhere ; the motto of the Red Republic, ''Proletariat of the 
World, Unite," written in half a dozen languages, appeared 
on a multitude of banners which decorated the stage, at the 
back of which was an enormous allegorical back drop repre- 
senting the triumph of the world proletariat. Portraits of the 
triumvirate, Lenin, Trotzki and Karl Marx, surrounded by 
garlands, appeared everywhere — on the stage, in the lobby, over 
the boxes. I do not object to Lenin and Trotzki, but from the 
first I had a spite against Karl Marx. He was omnipresent, and 
he always had the same ruminative, echt deutsch stolid expres- 


sion. Nothing will ever make me believe that that man v^^as 
as clever as his apostles believed him to be. I shall always have 
a suspicion that he was just a pedantic old German professor. 
If he had lived a bit longer I am sure he would have proved a 
great drawback to the execution of his own theories. Above 
all I despised his benevolent looking beard. No man who ad- 
vocates brute force exercised by a minority on the majority has 
the right to a benevolent expression and a grand fatherly beard. 

The grand opera orchestra, which is one of the finest in the 
world, played the "International" at the beginning and end of 
each speech, and as it is always sung standing we were con- 
tinually bobbing up and down. I soon learned the chorus, and 
used to join in vigorously. The members of the Soviet were 
all seated on the ground floor, the Imperial box was reserved 
for People's Commissars and members of the Central Execu- 
tive Committee; others for representatives of the Central 
Council of Trades Unions, and the unions themselves, repre- 
sentatives of the Red Army, foreign delegations and press 
correspondents, while the proletariat occupied the less desirable 
boxes and the galleries. Admission was by card only, armed 
guards were stationed in all the corridors, and the space in 
front of the Opera House was roped off and guarded by Red 
Army cavalry and infantrymen. These precautions are al- 
ways observed whenever Lenin and Trotzki appear, and have 
been in force ever since the attempt on Lenin's life in the 
autumn of 1918. 

Trotzki also spoke at the same meeting. As it was the 
first time I had seen him I was very curious as to the impres- 
sion I would receive of his personality. When he appeared 
he was greeted, as usual, with a tremendous ovation. Until 
it was time for him to speak he sat at the long red table 
on the stage with members of the prsesidium, or presiding body, 
of which Kamenev was the chairman. He sat with his head 
bent, scribbling industriously on a pad in front of him, and 
I could only see his high forehead with its mass of dark, curly 
chestnut hair and the sharp line of demarcation between the 
upper part of his forehead, which had been protected by a cap, 
and the lower part of his face, which was tanned by life in 


the open with the Red Army. When it was time for him 
to speak he pushed back his chair with a quick, restless move- 
ment and advanced to the front of the platform. I saw a 
broad-shouldered man of middle height, slightly inclined to 
stoutness at the waistline, but erect and military in his bearing. 
He had gray-green eyes, a prominent chin, brought still more 
into relief by a dark chestnut goatee, and close-clipped dark 

The line of his mouth was hard, cynical, almost forbid- 
ding, until he began to speak, and then I suddenly realized 
that there was something magnetic and compelling about the 
man's personality. Squaring his shoulders, he stood with his 
hands behind his back and spoke in short, terse, pithy sen- 
tences, interspersed with real flashes of humor. He under- 
stood the art of drawing and riveting the attention of the 
public. There was something almost exultant in his expres- 
sion as his eyes swept the enormous crowd in front of him, 
and it seemed to me that subconsciously it was mingled with 
a certain amount of racial pride. I could almost imagine him 
as saying, "For the first time since the days of the Maccabees, 
I, a Jew, am the head of a great army." Later, when I heard 
him speak before the graduating class of the general staff 
school, and at the military parade in honor of the Third In- 
ternational, the same idea obtruded itself on my imagination. 

While I never had a formal interview with Trotzki I had 
an informal talk with him, which was much more diverting. 
Interviews with Lenin and Trotzki are usually very disap- 
pointing affairs. Correspondents are, as a rule, required to 
make application in writing, giving a number of questions 
to which they wish to receive the answers. These are pre- 
pared by the secretary and handed out at the interview, the 
great man adding a few words along the same lines, but that 
is all. My conversation with Trotzki, however, was quite a 
different matter. 

After my visit with Mr. McCullagh to the exhibition of 
the Rosta in the Kremlin, we strolled aroimd looking at the 
historic buildings and convents, wandering unmolested in and 
out of courtyards and passageways. Everything was much 


the same as in the old days. The imperial palace, to which 
admission may be had on Sundays, and the churches, which 
are also shown on Thursdays to those armed with permits 
from the Foreign Office or the Commissariat of Education, 
have been kept intact. The meetings of the Third Interna- 
tional are held in the audience chamber of the Imperial palace. 
As we were crossing the great square between the building 
which is now the Commissariat of Justice, and the Cavalry 
Corps, the former quarters of the officers of the Imperial 
Guard, now the residence of several of the People's Commis- 
sars, I saw a familiar figure just ahead of me, walking quickly 
in the direction of the latter building. 

"That's Trotzki," I said to Mr. McCullagh. "I am going 
to speak to him," and I started off at a run. When I was 
within speaking distance I called rather breathlessly: 

"Citizen Commissar, may I speak to you for a moment?" 
Citizen, by the way, is the correct form of address at present 
in Russia. The word tovarisch — comrade — is only used be- 
tween party members or in the army. 

He turned around, evidently very much astonished at being 
halted in such a manner by an unknown, and evidently for- 
eign, female; but he did not look at all forbidding. I told 
him that I would like to have him tell me something of his 
plans for the Working Army ; that I could speak Russian very 
badly and would prefer to talk in French, English or German. 
He chose the first, which he speaks exceedingly well, to tell me 
that it was impossible for him at that time to give out any- 
thing for publication, but he added that he believed that the 
project would receive the unanimous support of the army, and 
that the men were impressed with the fact that winning the 
economic war was of equal importance with victory over 
Kolchak, Yudenitch or Denikin. He did not anticipate any 
trouble in holding the men after the cessation of hostilities. 

Then he asked me a few questions about conditions in 
America and my impressions of Soviet Russia. While we 
were talking a messenger, who evidently did not recognize 
the People's Commissar for War in the genial looking officer 
with whom I was chatting so informally, stopped to ask him 


the way to the quarters of one of the commissars. "Excuse 
me for a moment," he said, and took the trouble to explain 
to the boy in detail how to get there, even pointing the way. 
After which he turned to me, expressed pleasure at having 
had a little chat with a bourgeoise who had braved the dis- 
comforts of life in Soviet Russia to see what was going on in 
there. I held out my hand. To my amazement he took it, 
kissed it, like any conventional Russian of the old regime. 
*Au revoir, and a pleasant visit, Madame," he said. Then, 
with a military salute, he turned on his heel and was gone. 

Among my friends in Moscow was a lady, a violent mon- 
archist, by the way, who happened to be living in the country 
not far from a communal farm to which Trotzki was to pay 
a visit of inspection. The agricultural expert in charge of the 
work, wishing to entertain him properly on his visit, and being 
unmarried, asked her to act as hostess for him during Trotzki's 
stay. "What, talk to that brutal Bolshevik?" said my friend, 
"never." But finally curiosity got the better of prejudice 
and she went. 

At dinner, for she was an exceedingly pretty woman, he 
devoted himself to her, talking conventional small talk so de- 
lightfully that she forgot entirely, as she told me, that he was 
her natural enemy. 

"Actually, he was just like any other civilized person," she 
said in wonderment. 

Trotzki's adventures are the source of considerable enter- 
tainment in Moscow, and many stories are whispered about 
him in and out of Soviet circles. On the part of his inamorata 
they are not always disinterested, a fact of which the great 
commissar is well aware. In prison I met a young Ukrainian 
girl of great beauty and charm who had been his mistress for 
a few weeks when he was directing the campaign against 
Petlura in 191 9. 

"Trotzki told me once," she said, "that I was the only 
woman with whom he had had an affair who never asked him 
for food supplies." 

To return to the Congresses. The meeting of the Mos- 
cow Soviet was followed by the annual Communist party con- 


vention, to which I secured admission through Angelica Bala- 
banova, then secretary of the Third International. I sat on the 
stage with the Russian journaHsts and a few correspondents 
of foreign Sociahst papers, and I was the only non-Socialist 
present, a fact which was scored against me at the Checka, as I 
afterwards discovered. From a journalistic standpoint the 
meeting was not of particularly great interest, as the really 
secret things were not discussed openly, but in committee, and 
the foreign policies of the party played a minor role in the 
debates. The most important matters discussed were the in- 
auguration of the one-man system in factories, the working 
army, and the possible question of the nationalization of the 
land. It was easy to see at that time the tendency in the Com- 
munist party to split on these questions, all hinging on central- 
ization or decentralization. One-man control of factories and 
the control of the industrial forces of the country through 
mobilization were opposed by many Communists who believed 
in the vesting of the principal power in the Soviets and trades 
unions, but the Centralists were the victors. 

Later, at the meeting of the AU-Russian Council of Trades 
Unions, I had an opportunity of seeing how party discipline 
worked. The unions nominated on their prsesidium, or execu- 
tive body, a majority opposed to one-man control of factories. 
These candidates would have undoubtedly been elected, but 
before the elections the council was told that the Central 
Executive Committee of the Communist party did not approve 
its ticket. A majority in favor of the new policy would have 
to be on the prgesidium. Otherwise the council would be dis- 
solved pending reorganization. This policy was actually car- 
ried out with regard to the Printers' and Bakers' Unions, 
which struck a little later. Their executive committees were 
arrested and the unions reorganized along Communist lines. 

From my standpoint one of the most interesting illustra- 
tions of the workings of the Communist party machine was 
in connection with Lord Robert Cecil's proposal to send an 
investigating committee to Russia from the League of Na- 
tions. It was much discussed in government circles, and a 
number of influential liberals in the party were in favor of 


permitting the visit of the committee. Therefore, when it 
was announced that the matter would be debated at a meeting 
of the Ispolkom, the All-Russian Central Executive Commit- 
tee, of about two hundred members, which is the actual gov- 
erning body of the country, and that press correspondents 
were to be present, I anticipated a very interesting time. The 
meeting was to be held in the assembly hall of the Commis- 
sariat of Justice in the Kremlin at six in the evening. I ar- 
rived early, took a front seat, and awaited developments. Six 
o'clock came and only about forty members were in their 
places. There was no sign of Lenin, Trotzki, or any of the 
others, and a few minutes afterwards Chicherin appeared on 
the platform, accompanied by the secretary of the Ispolkom. 
He announced that at a meeting of the Central Executive 
Committee of the Communist party, held an hour previously, 
the text of the reply to Lord Robert Cecil had been drawn 
up and approved. He would read it to the Ispolkom and ask 
for their sanctioning vote. The note was read, approved 
without discussion or debate by the few members present, and 
the proposal of the League of Nations was officially turned 

The most picturesque of the many congresses at this time 
was that of the Red Cossacks, which was held at the head- 
quarters of the All-Russian Council of Trades Unions, in 
what was formerly the meeting place of Moscow's assembly 
of nobles. There were about three hundred and fifty dele- 
gates, from all parts of Russia and Siberia, and it was a most 
colorful gathering. The Cossacks wore their high, peaked 
caps, long caftans of black, brown or blue, with hoods lined 
with brilliant color thrown back over their shoulders ; gold 
chased cartridges were stuck in the bandoliers which crossed 
their chests, and most of them wore daggers in their belts and 
wonderful swords inlaid with gold and precious stones. They 
were a tumultuous, noisy gathering. Few of them impressed 
me as having any clear idea of the principles of Communism ; 
what appealed to them was the assurance that under the new 
government they would be able to maintain their ancient 
boast of being the ''free people." 


Through their sympathy with and understanding of the 
local nationalistic feeling of Russia's conglomerate popula- 
tion, the Bolsheviks have secured the loyalty of numbers of 
distinct racial groups. The "Federative Republic" is not a 
mere figure of speech. Counting the Ukraine, which is by far 
the largest, it actually includes nineteen autonomous republics. 
The Cossacks have not as yet received autonomy owing to the 
fact that there has been, and still is to some extent, civil war 
in the Donski Oblast, where the majority of the Cossack popu- 
lation is concentrated, and many of their leaders are still 
counter-revolutionary. If the Cossacks should decide to sup- 
port the Communist Government they would have great 
weight in stabilizing political conditions in Southeastern Rus- 
sia, as they are better educated, more vigorous and energetic 
and more intelligent than the Central Russian peasant popula- 
tion. The great majority of them are professional soldiers, 
and should their loyalty be secured they would undoubtedly 
support the militaristic wing of the Communist party. 

One of the features of the Congress was a Cossack ex- 
hibit which presented in a most attractive form a complete 
survey of agriculture, industry, education, and social condi- 
tions among all the Cossack tribes in Russia. It was illus- 
trated with a number of diagrams in color, and, of course, 
showed most advantageously what the government had done 
and was doing for the Cossacks since the Revolution. Then 
there were a number of inspiring revolutionary posters and a 
news stand where propaganda literature was distributed. One 
of the most original devices was an electric sign board, fur- 
nished with plugs over which were printed the questions the 
average person asks about the Soviet form of government. 
"What is a Soviet?" "How are the Soviets elected ?" "What 
is the dictatorship of the proletariat?" "What are the aims of 
the world revolution?" By pressing the button below any 
question the corresponding answer was flashed on the board 
in letters about three inches high, and not only the inquirer but 
all who happened to be passing by could read it. 

I often went to the Trades Union headquarters, the "Dom 
Soyusov," where, in addition to the Cossack Congress I have 


already described, I attended a number of meetings and con- 
certs. It was there that I heard Krassin make his first public 
report on the progress of negotiations for the reopening of 
trade with England, and at the same meeting I heard a speech 
by Kalenin, president of the All-Russian Council of Soviets. 
While not as well known outside of Russia as many of the 
other Bolshevik leaders, Kalenin, who is a peasant himself, is 
probably better known personally to the peasants, who make 
up ninety per cent, of Russia's population, than any of the 
Soviet oligarchy, not even excepting Lenin and Trotzki. He 
spends very little time in Moscow, living for the most part on 
his special train, on which he goes from one section of the coun- 
try to the other. Whenever there is trouble among the peas- 
ants, Kalenin is always the man to straighten it out, because 
he understands peasant psychology. He is a loose-knit, scrag- 
gly man with an unkempt blond beard, gentle blue eyes, and 
speaks with a rough eloquence that compels confidence. He 
and Krassin formed an incongruous pair — the former a thor- 
ough cosmopolitan in his correct suit of English tweeds, with 
his close-clipped beard and well-groomed appearance, his con- 
cise, well-balanced phrases and the air of a prosperous busi- 
ness man. 

Losovski, president of the All-Russian Council of Trades 
Unions, and Melnichanski, the secretary, are two equally con- 
trasting types. Losovski, whom I knew very well, is a Rus- 
sian revolutionary of the old school. He spent many years 
in exile and in Siberian prisons. He is an incorrigible idealist, 
and a man of broad general culture. Melnichanski, on the 
other hand, belongs to a type of the younger generation of 
Communists which is often met with in Russia. Emigrating 
to the United States when a mere boy, he worked in American 
factories and absorbed American initiative and business meth- 
ods. His radicalism is of the American stamp. Under the 
name of Melchner he was one of the ringleaders in the Pat- 
terson strike some years ago, and returned to Russia at the 
beginning of the Revolution to introduce American union 
methods of organization. 

He was very proud of his system for registering the trades 


union membership, which is now over five million in Russia, 
and he showed me all the departments of the Trades Union 
Bureau, which seemed to be working with order and despatch. 
In the great banquet hall of the Dom Soyusov he arranged 
during the summer a remarkable historical, technical and scien- 
tific survey of the trades union movement in Russia, illus- 
trated with splendid diagrams and enlivened by vivid propa- 
ganda posters. 

The meetings at the Dom Soyusov took place in the great 
ballroom where the nobility of Moscow gave its superb fetes 
in the old days. It is a beautiful room, decorated in white 
and gold, and hung with huge crystal chandeliers. Around 
the dancing floor is a row of boxes upholstered in crimson 
brocade. Behind are luxurious dressing-rooms and a special 
suite reserved for the Czar and his family when they attended 
these functions. Now it serves as a meeting and recreation 
hall for thousands of plain workmen. The mirrors in the 
magnificent foyers reflect linen blouses, frieze coats and cotton 
frocks, instead of gold lace, velvets and satins. In the former 
gaming room a corps of clerks is busy filing records, and the 
Holy of Holies, the room where the nobles held their meet- 
ings, is reserved for the sessions of the Executive Committee. 
In the chairs around the huge round table, on the back of which 
are still the inlaid coats of arms of the great nobles with 
hereditary rights to sit in the assembly, metal workers, textile 
and transport workers hold their deliberations. 


Naturally, when I arrived in Russia I was much interested 
as a woman in finding out all I could about the position of 
women in the Soviet Republic, and one of the first persons I 
met was Alexandra Kolontai, the only great woman publicist 
among the Communists. As a rule the Communist women, 
wives of commissars and other prominent individuals, devote 
themselves rather to constructive and educational work than 
propaganda, but Balabanova and Kolontai are the exceptions. 
I found them both very attractive personalities. Strangely 
enough, they are both bourgeoise by birth. Kolontai is the 
daughter of a noted imperial general, and is a lady to her 
finger tips. When she is in Moscow she lives at the National 
Hotel, where I found her in her room recovering from a re- 
cent severe illness. She was wearing an exquisite boudoir 
gown of green velvet trimmed with sable, her little feet were 
encased in velvet slippers of the same shade, and she was 
altogether chic and charming. Evidently she has great regard 
for her personal appearance, and although not young, she is 
still an extremely pretty woman of the rather fragile blonde 
type. We talked principally about the education of children, 
which is her chief hobby. 

Like many other thoughtful Communists, she believes the 
present generation is hopeless so far as making conscious 
Communists of the masses is concerned and that, as the Com- 
munists express it, "the children are our future." She told 
me that she considered family life absolutely subversive to 
the interests of the Commune, that children should from birth 
be regarded as the property of the State, that they would de- 
velop a much more genuine sense of social responsibility in 
the atmosphere of the institution reproducing the Commune 



than in the home which is under the influence of the patri- 
archal system. As regards the relationship of the sexes she 
felt that it should exist merely for the purpose of reproducing 
the race, without restraints except those imposed by observ- 
ance of the laws of eugenics. 

In pursuance of her theories she has planned a new system 
of motherhood endowment with pre-natal and post-natal care 
for mothers and babies. It was all very interesting, though I 
mentally took issue with her on every point. She also told 
me something about educational work among women which 
she found rather discouraging, and of her page in the Sunday 
Pravda, which was devoted to women's work and interests. 
While acknowledging that much must be done in the way of 
civic education among women, Kolontai was not inclined to 
treat the participation of women in politics as a separate prob- 
lem. "We have organized political propaganda work among 
women," she said. "Here in Moscow there are weekly meet- 
ings of women delegates from the large factories once a week. 
But women are encouraged to go to all political meetings 
and to work in conjunction with and on equal footing with 
men." This is quite true — there is no feminism in Russia, 
there are no laws, disadvantages, or disabilities operating 
against women. 

I first had an opportunity of observing large masses of 
women together on March 8, International Women's Day. 
In Moscow all offices employing women were closed at 2 
o'clock in the afternoon, there was a special edition of the 
Pravda, devoted entirely to women's interests, and women's 
mass meetings were held in every section of the town. I went 
to two with Angelica Balabanova, who was the principal 
speaker at both. 

The first meeting was at the Kremlin, in the amphitheater 
of the Palace of Justice, a beautiful room in the style of the 
late eighteenth century. Originally the walls and columns 
were pure white, but the interior at present suggests a con- 
fectionery store at Christmas time more than anything else. 
The columns have been turnd into huge candy canes by diag- 
onal wrappings of red bunting and the spaces between into 


red and white striped lozenges by means of strips of the same 
material stamped with revolutionary mottoes. It was filled 
with women employees of the government offices in the Krem- 
lin, wearing the inevitable bright-colored shawl wound tightly 
around their heads with an end thrown over one shoulder. 
I have often wondered if the Russian women sleep in their 
shawls. Our little maid was never without hers, and one day 
when I visited the women's ward of a large hospital practi- 
cally every patient was wearing one in bed. 

When we arrived a government official was in the midst 
of a long, tedious speech. The women were listening with the 
patience characteristic of Russian audiences, but it was evident 
that they were bored. Many were half asleep, others staring 
at the walls and ceiling, still others trying to quiet their rest- 
less babies. The instant Balabanova stepped on the stage there 
was a slight rustle as everyone leaned forward to get a close 
look, for hers is a personality that compels attention. 

They saw a dumpy little woman, slightly bent, wearing a 
man's coat many sizes too large, the big fur collar touching 
the edges of an astrakhan cap pulled far down over her ears, 
and carrying a long ebony cane with an ivory handle. Little 
else about her was visible except a pair of wonderful dark 
eyes. Throwing off her coat and tossing her cap on the table, 
she started to speak, and every woman in the hall was galvan- 
ized into instant interest. She talked not about the doctrines 
of Communism but of its practical application to their imme- 
diate problems, explaining the reasons for the many hardships 
they are enduring at present and describing what the Soviet 
Government is trying to do for them and their children. 

"You all remember the days when a washerwoman was a 
washerwoman and nothing more," she said. "She could never 
be anything else. Now she can be anything she pleases. The 
working women of Russia have come into their kingdom." 
Finally she outlined in the simplest possible words the prin- 
ciples of the International. 

As she walked up and down the platform, her hands in 
her pockets, her head thrown back, her tired face with its 
sensitive mouth and luminous eyes aglow with enthusiasm. 


she was a curiously moving figure, and even the fact that her 
hair came down and fell in two long braids over her shoulders 
did not detract from the dignity of her small person. Some- 
thing of her spirit seemed to catch the audience, for there was 
much applause when she had finished, but that the response 
was emotional rather than intellectual was shown by the notes 
written by women in the audience and sent to the platform 
during her speech. There were some intelligent questions, 
but the majority were queries such as, ''Where can I get a 
pair of shoes?" "When will we get more bread?" or "Why 
are there so many churches in Moscow ?" She shook her head 
as she read them over. 

"It is hard to make women appreciate ideals when they 
are cold and hungry," she said, "especially women of this type 
— unskilled workers, former servants and members of the 
small bourgeoisie. You will see a different attitude among 
the industrial workers." 

I found this to be true at the next meeting, held at the 
famous Prokorov factory, where the revolution of 1905 
started in Moscow. Formerly it was one of the largest tex- 
tile plants in Russia, with a yearly production of over 13,000,- 
000 pieces of cotton goods — enough, as the foreman told me, 
"to wrap the world around three times." At that time the 
factory had some raw material but no fuel, and except for a 
small force employed in putting the machinery in order work 
was at a standstill. 

When we entered the factory dining room where the meet- 
ing was to take place it was already half full, though it was 
nearly an hour ahead of time, and while waiting we had a 
chat with the chairman, herself a factory worker. Following 
the modern revolutionary fashion, she wore her hair cut short 
like a man, but there was a feminine touch in her rhinestone 
earrings that seemed singularly out of place, emphasizing her 
rather masculine features. She had a fine, intelligent face, a 
keen, alert manner, and she conducted the meeting in a way 
that showed a thorough knowledge of parliamentary pro- 
cedure. The audience was responsive to every word, and 
there was none of the apathy I had noticed in the meeting 


at the Kremlin. Several of the speakers were factory women, 
and they handled their subjects in a way that would have 
done credit to a college graduate. As we left the meeting I 
noticed that Balabanova seemed utterly exhausted, and I found 
out that she had not eaten anything since breakfast. "I never 
thought about it," she said simply. 

Like most of the women workers in the Communist party 
she never spared herself, often speaking at three or four meet- 
ings a day, besides working several hours at her office. In 
addition she found time to keep up with current events in 
Italy, where she spent more than twenty years, and also acted 
as interpreter for foreign labor delegations. \ 

The wives of most of the People's Commissars are doing 
constructive work, among them Trotzkaya, who is in charge 
of all the museums in Moscow and arranges popular exhibits ; 
Lunacharskaya, who has the supervision of a number of chil- 
dren's homes ; Semaskaya, wife of the Commissioner of 
Public Health, who works as a nurses' aid in the Novo Alex- 
androffsky Hospital, and Krupkaya, the wife of Lenin, who 
is directing the work of primary education in Russia and 
founded the rural colonies for children. 

While there are trained women workers in all political 
parties in Russia, religion still plays a great part in the lives 
of most Russian women, and they are politically apathetic. 
The proportion of illiteracy is far greater among women than 
men, and they have not the opportunities of overcoming this 
handicap which are given every man in the Red Army. The 
women of the former bourgeoisie naturally hold aloof from 
politics. The vast majority of working women are still densely 
ignorant and too much absorbed in their immediate problems 
to be susceptible to educational propaganda. When you work 
from six to eight hours a day, spend three or four standing 
in line outside one of the cooperatives waiting for food and 
clothing issued on cards, or dragging a hand sled loaded with 
wood for several versts, cook your own meals, feeding four 
mouths where there is enough for two, you have little time 
for anything else. In many cases the male members of the 
family are in the army and the entire responsibility devolves 


on the mothers and wives. The women of Russia have borne 
the brunt of the war, the blockade and the economic crisis. 
Until normal conditions are restored, there can be no extensive 
development of the work of training them for citizenship. 

There has been much talk in America and Western Europe 
about the immorality and sex demoralization brought about 
by the Revolution in Russia. As a matter of fact, the aris- 
tocracy and the intellectuals were always extraordinarily lib- 
eral with regard to sex relationships; among the former 
divorce was far more common than in any other European 
country, and among the latter irregular relationships entailed 
no loss of social standing. As is well known, an enormous 
number of professional prostitutes existed in Czarist Russia, 
under government regulation, with their famous "yellov 
tickets." This class has been entirely abolished by the Soviet 
Government. At first these women were summarily dealt 
with. Large numbers, who were hopelessly diseased, were 
shot as the easiest form of prophylaxis, others were isolated, 
still others put to work. Those belonging to the aristocracy 
of the underworld made their escape to foreign countries. As 
a result, there is no open soliciting in the streets of Moscow. 
What might be characterized as predatory vice has also disap- 
peared. Painted ladies no longer maintain luxurious estab- 
lishments, or lay their decoy nets — the women of the lower 
classes are all workers, self-supporting and independent, with 
the same wage scale as men. Types, such as the old roues 
and the gilded youth who haunted the cafes and boulevards 
in former days are nonexistent, but to a certain, though lesser 
extent, a new type has arisen to take their place. 

Every department of every commissariat contains many 
of these gentry who constitute what has often been spoken of 
as the New Bourgeoisie. Some of these men manage to live 
within the law or to keep from being found out, others are 
adept at bribery or blackmail, and enjoy immunity, for a con- 
siderable time, at least. Often they are Jews, occasionally 
former hourgeoi who have been clever opportunists, and who 
have managed to construct a fair imitation of their former 
life. These men have plenty of money, hoards of Nikolai 


roubles, gold and jewels tucked away In safe places — ^above 
all, they have access to inexhaustible food supplies. 

The girls who work in Soviet bureaus have none of these 
things. Often they have nonworkers to support on their 
scanty pay and scantier rations, they need food, clothing, fuel, 
and they have the irresistible feminine love for pretty things. 
The rich speculators can give them everything they want — 
it is the same old story of economic pressure about which 
such hue and cry is raised in capitalistic countries, that drives 
them to irregular relationships with their associates or depart- 
ment chiefs. The number of kept women in the Soviet offices 
is enormous, but as a rule these liaisons are more or less perma- 
nent affairs, and there is not much promiscuity. 

Numbers of girls with whom I talked were engaged to 
the men with whom they were living, and they were waiting 
for better times before getting married. It was difficult to find 
living quarters — perhaps the man had an old father and 
mother to take care of, the girl several brothers and sisters. 
It was impossible to set up a separate establishment, therefore 
they both lived at home and met whenever they could. Many 
women told me frankly that they did not want a home or 
children under present living conditions. 

On the other hand, I ran across a peculiar form of graft, 
if it can be called by such a term. There are a number of 
women among the lower classes who deliberately have as many 
children as they possibly can because of the special privileges 
they enjoy. They receive special diet after the first few 
months of pregnancy, which is continued for some time after 
the birth of the child. They also enjoy a holiday of three 
months with full wages and rations and receive thirty arsheens 
of material for the baby's outfit. If they do not care to keep 
the child it can be put in an institution. As these women are 
usually healthy animals, they do not mind the physical dis- 
comforts, and the State relieves them of any moral responsi- 
bility for their offspring. It is an easy way of making a 
comfortable living. 

In the foyers of the vaudeville theaters where the rich 
commissars and their mistresses congregate I saw wonderful 


jewels and superb costumes. The women were often marvel- 
ously bedizened and painted, but they lacked the chic of the 
professional courtesan. I saw few who appeared to belong 
definitely to this class. Many of them were obviously work- 
ing women who were apeing the manners and morals of their 
former employers. I once heard a rather amusing story in 
this connection. 

A Red workman in Petrograd took a seat in a trolley car 
next to a gorgeously gowned, highly perfumed lady who fairly 
exuded luxury. He began to reproach her for being a bour- 
geoise, accusing her of belonging to the class that had lived so 
long on the blood of the proletariat. 

"And you are still at your old tricks," he cried, "still man- 
aging to keep your furs and fine clothes, by crooked means, 
no doubt, while honest working women in Petrograd are 
going without coats and shoes." 

"Aw, keep your mouth shut," she answered in the Russian 
vernacular, "I'm the mistress of a fool of a workman like you !" 
On the whole, however, except for juvenile immorality, of 
which I shall have something to say in another chapter, I am 
inclined to think that the Revolution had rather a stabilizing 
effect on morals than otherwise. The often repeated story of 
nationalization of women is regarded as a joke in Russia by 
those who have seen articles published abroad on the subject. 
The vast majority of the people stare at you in blank, incom- 
prehending amazement if you allude to it. The theory was 
advanced in a little newspaper published in Saratov by a small 
group of Anarchists, but purely as a speculative fancy, and 
even they did not take it seriously. 


As a matter of fact, people get married and divorced by 
Soviet decrees in Russia very much as they do in any other 
country. The government recognizes only civil marriages 
performed before a magistrate, and the fact of such a mar- 
riage entitles the married couples to mutual legal rights. For 
example, in case a husband and wife wish to separate, they 
must appear before the magistrate, state the reasons, arrange 
for an equable division of their personal effects, for the dis- 
position of the children, who, if they are not of an age to 
choose for themselves, may be awarded to either parent or 
committed to one of the children's institutions at the discre- 
tion of the magistrate. Questions, such as to which one shall 
occupy the apartment where both have been living together, 
are also settled before the magistrate. 

It is very simple to get married and equally simple to get 
divorced. Persons desiring to be married appear before one 
of the judges of the People's Court in their "Rayon," or police 
district, bringing two witnesses who certify that they have 
known the contracting parties for some time and that there 
is no obstacle to their marriage. Then they are registered by 
the magistrate as man and wife. In most cases the wife re- 
tains her maiden name. This is partly because the women 
consider it a sign of independence, partly because there are 
regulations forbidding husband and wife to work in the same 
bureau. The wives of the great commissars are usually 
known by their maiden names; thus the wife of Lenin, who 
is much interested in the organization of the children's colo- 
nies, is known as Krupkaya; Gorky's wife as Peschkova. 
Kolontai has had any number of husbands, the last being a 
soldier twenty years younger than herself, who recently de- 
serted her, but she has always kept her own name. 



A divorce may be obtained in the same manner before a 
judge of the People's Court in a very short time — three weeks, 
with the consent of both parties; in six months if one of the 
parties disagrees. There are no legal disabihties attached to 
illegitimate children, and the father is forced to assume the 
responsibility for them should occasion arise. Neither is an 
irregular relationship looked upon askance. 

Among the lower classes, however, old-fashioned ideas 
still prevail. I had an illustration of this one day when I was 
walking along the Tverskaya. There was a great commotion 
in a side street, and a woman came running out, her hair 
down, her face scratched, screaming like a maniac. She was 
pursued by a good-sized crowd, in the center of which was 
another woman, the embodiment of one of the furies. She 
and the rest of the crowd were sending showers of stones after 
the fugitive. I ducked one which came perilously near me, 
then, retiring to the shelter of a doorway, awaited develop- 
ments. The first woman ran straight into the arms of a 
militiaman, who halted the entire mob, and began to ask ques- 
tions of the second woman, who was evidently the aggressor. 
"Paugh," she said, spitting violently, a habit of the Rus- 
sians when either frightened or angry, "she is a worthless 
wench. I go out to work and I come home and find her with 
my husband. I will tear her to pieces ; let me get at her," and 
she made a threatening gesture, cheered on by the crowd, 
which was entirely in sympathy with her righteous indigna- 
tion. The militiaman was impartial and led them both off to 
settle their differences in the People's Court. 

There are still many church weddings in Moscow. I often 
used to drop in at various churches while weddings were going 
on, and once I was a guest at a regular old-fashioned Russian 
wedding. It was at the home of a Mme. B , whose hus- 
band was formerly one of the most fashionable tailors in Mos- 
cow. He had been arrested nearly a year before I made their 
acquaintance, because in a raid on the apartment in which 
they lived a circular letter written in Kerensky's time, recom- 
mending the Moscow merchant tailors to organize in order 
to combat the excessive demands of the workmen, had been 


found among his papers. He was held for two months in the 
Checka, where he died of typhus before his case came up for 
trial. Taking advantage of the decree, which, with variations, 
has always been in force, permitting the existence of small 
"artels," or workshops, consisting of from ten to fifty indi- 
viduals, all of whom worked together on a cooperative basis, 
and being over the legal working age himself, he had main- 
tained his business in a small way and managed to support his 
family very comfortably. 

The business was carried on after his death by Mme. 

B , her two nieces and her son, who was serving his term 

in the Red Army, but had managed through pull to secure an 
assignment to duty in the War Office at Moscow, where he 
served for only a few hours each day, being free the rest of 
the time to devote his attention to the workshop. They had a 
great many orders from rich commissars, who do not pur- 
chase all their clothes from the Soviet stores by any means. 
One day when I dropped into the shop I saw a good-looking 
young man being fitted for a suit of English tweeds. When 
he left Mme. B. told me that he had ordered nine suits, an 
overcoat and a fur-lined ulster for his trousseau, as he ex- 
pected to be married very shortly. 

Mme. B.'s niece was to be married in a few weeks, and I 
was invited to the wedding, which took place at five o'clock in 
the afternoon at a large church not far from her apartment 
on the Povarskaya, formerly one of the most fashionable resi- 
dence streets of Moscow. I went to their home and walked 
to the church, which was only a short distance away, with an 
elderly friend of the family. The bridal party was driven in 
carriages. My escort was very correct in a frock coat of 
sonlewhat antiquated pattern, it is true, and the cousin of the 
bride was smart in an English morning coat and striped trou- 
sers, with a white boutonniere in his buttonhole. The same 
costume was worn by the groom, a prosperous young 
enpneer, and his best man. 

On entering the church, the bride, with her attendants, ten 
pretty bridesmaids in white frocks, carrying large bouquets 
of phlox, accompanied by the members of her family and inti- 


mate friends, turned to the left of the door and waited. The 
family of the groom occupied the lower right-hand corner of 
the church. In a few minutes the doors of the sanctuary, 
flanked by innumerable pictures of saints which take the place 
of an altar in the Greek church, opened to admit the priest, 
who advanced down the main aisle of the basilica. He was 
an imposing old man with a long flowing grey beard and a 
fiine patriarchal face. He wore a gorgeous robe of green and 
gold brocade, and carried a superb prayerbook in his hands. 
On his head was a curious miterlike headdress of gold galoon 
encrusted with real or imitation stones. He advanced to 
where the groom was standing with his best man, took him 
by the hand and led him across to the bride, placing his hand 
in hers. Then, turning, he led the way to the sanctuary, fol- 
lowed by the bridal couple, the attendants and family, among 
whom I was included, while a wedding march was chanted 
by the choir. In the Russian churches there are no organs, 
but the unaccompanied Gregorian chant is often very beautiful, 
and it was superb on this occasion, for this particular church 
had one of the finest choirs in Moscow. 

The ceremony was long and exceedingly complicated. Dur- 
ing the entire time the best man and maid of honor held huge 
gilt crowns over the heads of the bride and groom, there 
were many prayers and a short homily on the married state 
by the priest. Then, followed by the bridal couple and their 
two attendants, still holding the crowns over their heads, he 
marched three times around the huge Bible on a gilded lectern 
which stood in the center of the church just outside the sanc- 
tuary rail. During the entire ceremony the guests and spec- 
tators remained standing, for there are no pews or chairs in 
Orthodox churches. There were many places in the service 
where they all bowed and crossed themselves several times. 
After the final blessing everybody present kissed the priest's 
hand, and the Bible, filing in line before the lectern, then the 
priest and all the guests kissed the bride and we all went home 
to a beautiful wedding supper. 

It consisted of cold meats, delicious Russian salad, hot 
meat croquettes with fried potatoes, white rolls, elaborate 


cakes of all kinds, bonbons and fruit, followed by coffee. We 
drank kvass, a plebeian drink, something like a cross betv/een 
poor beer and cider, which is the Russian 2,75 in a country 
of prohibition. There had been much discussion before hand 
as to whether we should have champagne, but as there were 
at least fifty guests, and the price of champagne, plenty of which 
could be bought from Soviet bootleggers, was about 35.000 
roubles a bottle, it was decided that it would be unjustifiable 
extravagance under the circumstances. 

We were seated at a long, narrow table extending around 

three sides of Mme. B 's handsome dining room, beautifully 

decorated with bowls of cut summer flowers. The bride 
looked very pretty in a real white satin gown with white silk 
stockings and white kid slippers. There were innumerable 
speeches, the bride's health was drunk in kvass, then the table 
was taken away by the young men-of the party and we danced 
to the music of a graphophone, alternating with French 
waltzes and Russian dances played on the piano by one of the 
guests, and the party did not break up until long after mid- 

In view of the high prices and scarcity of everything in 
Revolutionary Moscow, a rough estimate of the cost of the 
party is rather interesting. To begin with there was the 
bride's costume. Her satin frock was homemade, but the 
material cost about eighty thousand roubles, the silk stockings 
eighteen thousand roubles a pair, the kid slippers forty thou- 
sand. The bridesmaids' frocks, also homemade, and of silk 
mull, cost about thirty thousand roubles apiece, their bouquets 
five thousand each, and the flowers on the table represented 
roughly twenty thousand roubles. The priest received ten 
thousand roubles as his fee, the choir about the same and then 
there was the expense of lighting and cleaning the church and 
the verger's fee, which amounted to several thousand roubles 

more. The supper, Mme. B told me, cost over half a 

million. In all she calculated that she had spent nearly a mil- 
lion roubles on the wedding. She had not had to buy a dress 
for herself as she had many costumes left over from the old 
days which could be made over. 


Among the guests at the wedding was a pretty young girl 
who was a student at the Moscow Conservatory of Music. 
Her father, who was a well-known general, had died some 
years previously, and her three brothers, all guard officers, 
had been shot at the beginning of the Revolution. She and 
her mother lived in one room and kept themselves from starving 
by selling their old clothes, household linen and jewelry, though 
they did the latter at considerable risk, as selling gold or pre- 
cious stones is illegal. Nevertheless, her hair was waved and 
arranged in a tousled mass of curls, Russian fashion; she wore 
a black velvet dress that had seen better days, and a handsome 
white fox around her neck, though the wedding was in mid- 
summer. Such incongruities are features of Soviet fashions. 
People wear what they have, irrespective of the seasons, and 
it is no uncommon sight to see women wearing superb sable 
furs in midsummer, covering ragged gowns, and silk frocks 
during working hours in government offices. 

The young couple were given a bedroom and sitting-room 
in Mme. B 's seven-room apartment, which she had man- 
aged to keep intact through personal friendship with the chair- 
man of the housing committee. They took no wedding trip. 
It is impossible to secure permits to travel in Russia without 
all sorts of passes, and unless they were traveling on official 
business it would not have been possible for them to secure 
accommodations in government hotels, so they just said good- 
night to the guests and settled down in their rooms, which had 
been painted and repapered for them by Mme. B . 

It is hard to live in Russia at the present time, but it is 
equally hard to die decently, as I found out upon the death of 
the father of one of my friends, a former Imperial general of 
an old and historic family. Great commissars and party lead- 
ers are accorded magnificent funerals like that of the Commis- 
sar of Posts and Telegraphs, whose obsequies I have already 
described, for in such cases reverence is accorded to the idea 
and not the person. But in the case of ordinary individuals the 
dead are disposed of like so much waste paper. When the gen- 
eral died his family were most anxious to have him buried 
according to the rites of the Orthodox church, and this entailed 


no end of red tape and trouble. In the first place, after obtain- 
ing the certificate of death they had to secure permission to 
keep the body in the house beyond the fixed period of twenty- 
four hours after his decease, and they were obliged to procure 
special permission to hold religious services in their apart- 
ment. Ordinarily officials from the Department of Health 
would have come to their home, placed the body in a rough 
board coffin, and have carried it on a dray with the bodies of 
other persons who had died during the preceding twenty-four 
hours, to one of the public cemeteries. There it would have 
been dumped in a common grave and the coffin, in all probabil- 
ity, saved to do service again. All this would have been done 
without any expense whatever to the family. As it was, the 
State provided nothing. The general's daughter was obliged 
to go out, buy boards for a coffin, find a carpenter to make it, 
and bring it to their apartment on a pushcart. Then a cart 
and horse had to be hired to take the body to the cemetery, 
a man found to dig the grave and permission secured from 
the authorities for separate burial. All this took eight days 
and cost the family over a hundred thousand roubles. 

I saw several cemeteries in Moscow, among them the ceme- 
tery of Novodievoche, where the composer Scriabine, Tchekov 
the playwright, the members of the Stolypin family and many 
other noted Russians are buried. Here the anarchist prince, 
Peter Kropotkin, who died during my stay in Moscow, was 
buried in consecrated ground. I also noticed the graves of a 
number of Communists within the enclosure distinguishable 
from the others only by the fact that they lacked the Greek 
cross which forms the headstone of every Orthodox grave. 
The cemetery was in good condition, none of the graves had 
been disturbed in any way, and many of them were decorated 
with growing plants and flowers. In this as in many other 
respects the Russians are slow to abandon tradition, and no 
amount of materialistic teaching will ever stamp out their rev- 
erence for their dead. 


After I had been in Moscow for a few weeks I got tired of 
doing purely official things, made friends outside the narrow 
circle of the Foreign Office around which the life of most cor- 
respondents revolves, and began to get an idea of how the 
average family lives in Russia. 

The people who lived best in Moscow were the big specu- 
lators. They were quite different from the small fry that 
haunted the markets or engaged in house-to-house trade. There 
was a certain class that dealt in foreign exchange and Czar 
roubles, turning over millions every day. You could get a 
quotation on almost every sort of foreign currency, the ex- 
change fluctuating according to the political and international 
situation. Before the departure of large repatriation echelons, 
francs, pounds and dollars were always greatly in demand and 
increased in value accordingly. 

Many persons were engaged, in cooperation with Letts 
and Esthonians, in smuggling rugs, paintings, jewels and 
bibelots out of the country. This was comparatively easy to 
do, as Lettish and Esthonian subjects, under the terms of the 
peace treaties, had the right to take their personal belongings 
with them, and they could claim as their own articles later to 
be sold in Reval or Riga, the money to be deposited in a bank 
to the credit of the Russian owner after the middleman had 
deducted his commission. I knew a woman in Moscow who 
made over two millions a month in this business. 

Other people, fantastic as it may seem, bought and sold 
real estate, on paper, of course, for future delivery when the 
right of private property would be re-established. A flour- 
ishing trade was done in passports to foreign countries, per- 
mits to travel on the railroads, food cards and Soviet food 



While official demoralization is undoubtedly widespread in 
Russia I do not think it quite fair to attribute the corruption in 
official circles entirely to the Bolshevik regime. It was an 
accepted fact under the old regime that bribery played an im- 
portant part in all business or official transactions, and things 
have remained very much the same. 

To live on Soviet rations was next to impossible but nearly 
everyone in Moscow had other sources from which to buy 
food supplies. Few people had the right sort of food, how- 
ever, and the shortage of fats and sugar caused a great deal 
of anaemia and under-nourishment. On the whole, I believe 
that during my stay in Moscow, while many people were half 
starved, there were no actual deaths from starvation, and the 
available food supplies were equably distributed. There was 
never a time when people who had money could not buy prac- 
tically everything they wished. 

One day, quite by accident, I dropped into one of the many 
little mushroom shops which had sprung up in Moscow, where 
varenyets, or curdled milk, could be bought in glasses, and 
white rolls and pastry were sold at fabulous prices. The man 
who waited on me was a distinguished looking old gentleman, 
evidently very superior to his present job. I began to talk 
with him and found out that he was a former Colonel in the 
Russian Army. Being above the age limit, he was not obliged 
to work in a Soviet office, and he had agreed to keep shop a 
certain number of hours each day for a Jew who was running 
the place. He invited me to his house, where I was afterwards 
a frequent visitor. 

His wife worked in one of the branches of the Department 
of Education, his only son had just taken his degree in medi- 
cine at the University of Moscow and was a Red Army physi- 
cian. His daughter was employed as a clerk in the "Glav 
Kozh," Leather Central, a branch of the Centro Soyous, which 
controls distribution in Russia. Between them, therefore, they 
had three payoks, or food rations. The son was drawing Red 
Army rations, which were about double those obtained by 
civilian employees. They were living in their old apartment 
of six rooms, four of which they occupied, two being assigned 


to other persons. That they had so much room was due to 
the fact that the Colonel's wife was chairman of the "Hous- 
ing Committee," which exists in every dwelling and apartment 
house in Moscow, under a department of the Commissariat of 
Labor. According to the regulations of the Central Housing 
Committee, each citizen is allowed a certain number of cubic 
feet for his lodgings, but these regulations are often honored 
more in the breach than the observance. Those who know how 
to get on the good side of the regional commissar, by bribery 
or otherwise, are frequently allowed to keep their old quarters, 
and if they give up any of their rooms, to choose their own 
tenants, and this was the case with my friends. 

They kept no servant, the mother and daughter doing all 
the cooking. They received their food rations through the 
offices where they worked, supplementing them by selling off 
their clothes, furniture and jewelry. They had to make all 
the repairs themselves in this apartment. If the plumbing 
system broke down the father had to mend it; if a window 
was broken it had to be patched with paper. They had man- 
aged to buy enough wood to keep fires in the kitchen and in 
two of the rooms, the wood assigned them, which they were 
obliged to go some distance to get and bring home themselves, 
not being sufficient to keep one stove going for more than 
three months of the year. It was given them in the form of 
logs, which the father or the son had to saw into the proper 
lengths in the courtyard of the apartment and carry up four 
flights of stairs as no elevators have run in Moscow for sev- 
eral years. To procure the wood was a matter of time and 
endless formalities. First it was necessary to have a Trudo- 
vaya Knizhka, or workers' book, showing where the appli- 
cant for wood was employed. Everyone in Moscow between 
the ages of sixteen and fifty must be provided with one of 
these books, otherwise it is not only impossible for him to ob- 
tain lodgings, food or clothing from the government stores, 
but he may be arrested at any time as a work deserter and 
condemned for a period of months to compulsory labor. 

Until recently it was not possible for workers to choose 
their place of employment. They were registered at the Work 


Exchange and assigned to work where they were most needed. 
Often this system caused great hardships, as in the case of 
a friend of mine, a widow with one child, who was assigned 
to work in an office at least six versts from her residence. As 
she had no relatives with whom she could leave him, and was 
unwilling to put him in a children's home, she endeavored to 
find work in an office nearer her lodgings, and secured a tenta- 
tive offer from a Soviet official for employment at a higher 
salary than what she was then getting, provided she could be 
released from her old position. Not only was release refused 
her, but she was arrested on a charge of insubordination and 
condemned to six months of compulsory work, which consisted 
of cleaning toilets in government offices. She was a highly 
educated person and could speak five languages, but she was 
obliged to do this disgusting work as the price for her temerity. 
In addition to the workers' book, it was also necessary, in 
order to secure wood, to have an order from your place of 
employment which was to be presented at the regional office 
of the Moscow Fuel Committee and exchanged for an order 
signed by the committee, after which you had to wait until 
there was a distribution of fuel in your region, then go to the 
appointed place, stand in line and wait your turn for fuel. 
Sometimes, if you were not early, the supply gave out and you 
were obliged to come back another day. 

The same process must be gone through in order to pur- 
chase shoes, clothing or household utensils or furnishings, and 
to draw the weekly food rations on cards. Actually this sys- 
tem did much to hinder the efficiency of government offices, 
as the employees lost a number of days in each month collecting 
their supplies and rations. 

My friends told me that frequently supplies assigned on 
cards were either not given out at the appointed time or that 
all were gone, and if they needed anything at once they were 
compelled to go to the Soukharevka, Moscow's illegal market, 
and purchase them at speculative prices. Once they received 
no bread for seventeen days from their local distributing center, 
while people in other parts of Moscow were receiving their 
regular ration. During this time they were obliged to buy 


bread in the open market for five hundred roubles a pound. 

The working hours of the mother and daughter were from 
ten till five daily, until two o'clock on Saturdays, with Sundays 
free. The daughter was studying dancing at the Moscow 
Ballet School, receiving her tuition free, and she attended her 
classes after office hours. The mother did all the housework 
and cooking, the daughter did the laundry work in her odd 
moments, but they both managed to keep well, even elegantly 
dressed, and still used silver on their table, which they care- 
fully secreted whenever there was a raid on the apartment, 
which happened occasionally. The Colonel had also managed 
to conceal his commission, his sword and many relics of army 
days. They had few pleasures, occasionally receiving tickets 
for the theater from the office where they worked, but they 
were usually too tired to go out at night. They could go to a 
public library to read and could take out books for home read- 
ing if they pertained to the work of their department, but they 
could buy no books or other reading matter. The mother and 
father lived mainly in the past. The daughter belonged to a 
club in her office, which sometimes gave dances and informal 
parties, spent her meager salary on perfumes, and powdered 
her nose like any New York stenographer. 

I was often a guest at the five o'clock dinner which was 
their only real meal during the twenty-four hours. A typical 
menu was potato soup, black bread, kasha, butter and tea. 
They had a litde real tea, which they hoarded very carefully. 
Usually there was no sugar for tea, and they substituted rai- 
sins. Salt herrings, prepared with artificial vinegar, cucum- 
bers and potatoes were luxuries. One day when I arrived at 
dinner time they told me that they had a real treat for me, and 
the daughter produced a pound of butter which she had bought 
in exchange for a pair of silk stockings and a tiny piece of 
chocolate given to her by the chief of her department, with 
whom she was on very good terms. They were all officially 
bes partini, nonpartisans, but they spent their time in abusing 
the Soviet Government and bemoaning the past. They were 
absolutely without patriotism or national feeling, hoped the 
Poles would begin active hostilities and take Moscow, had a 


fairly superstitious reverence for all foreigners, and a humility 
that was almost servile and which I found rather repulsive. 
This is typical of the attitude of the middle class bourgeois 

A favorite expression of these unhappy bourgeois with re- 
gard to present-day conditions in Russia was Koschemar, a 
corruption of the French word, "Cauchemar" — nightmare. 
Many of them felt that they were indeed living in the midst of 
a terrible dream. 

Through them I met General Brusilov, whom I found to be 
of a very different stamp. I often visited him and his wife 
at their apartment at number fourteen Mansoursky Pereoulak. 
While the career of Brusilov since the Revolution has been the 
theme of much speculation, and of many absurd articles in 
the foreign press, very few people outside of Russia have any 
idea as to what he has been doing. People who followed the 
war news on the Eastern Front remember him as the leader of 
the brilliant Galician offensive in 1916, which annihilated the 
Austrian Army on that front and made active assistance to 
Germany from that quarter impossible. With the exception of 
the few advantages gained in the East Prussian campaign at 
the beginning of the war it was the only substantial military 
success achieved by the Imperial Army. Much of the territory 
acquired during Brusilov's advance was lost later, owing to 
lack of arms and ammunition and the increasing demoraliza- 
tion in the army. Brusilov himself told me of those terrible 
days, when he realized that the army was going to pieces, and 
sent frantic telegrams to the War Ministry at Petrograd, asking 
for the help that never came. His enemies claim that he was 
and always has been an opportunist, that he was one of the 
Czar's boot-licking sycophants, that he afterwards curried 
favor with Kerensky and later with the Bolsheviks, and it is 
undoubtedly true that he is despised by the old monarchists 
and members of the Cadet party, who loathe him as a traitor. 
Some day he intends to write his memoirs in justification and 
explanation of his conduct; meanwhile this is his story as he 
told it to me. 

He had always been inclined to sympathize with the Cadets 


who supported the idea of a constitutional monarchy in Rus- 
sia, and was intimate with many of their leaders in the Douma, 
During the dark days at the end of 191 6 he became convinced 
that Russia could not stay in the war under the utterly inca- 
pable, weak and vaccillating rule of Nicholas II, and when the 
March Revolution came, actuated solely by patriotism, he 
offered his services to Kerensky. He remained in command 
of the Eighth Army until shortly before the October Revolu- 
tion, when he was removed on account of difference of opinion 
with Kerensky, who was yielding to the demands of the 
French, and the English Ambassador, Sir George Buchanan, 
to keep up the war and sending mutinous, unarmed, half- 
naked men to stop the Grerman bullets. 

At the end of the October Revolution he was living quietly 
in Moscow and was wounded by a bomb dropped by an aero- 
plane, which fell in his apartment. He was taken to the hos- 
pital at the Kremlin, where he remained for several months, 
after which he was placed under arrest and held for six 
months in the Kremlin prison, being treated, however, with 
every consideration, owing to his weakened condition. Subse- 
quently he was allowed to return to his home but was kept 
under house arrest until the late autumn of 19 19, when he 
agreed to accept a position in the archives office of the Red 
Army staff to supervise the compilation of a history of Rus- 
sia's part in the Great War. He was living on his pay of three 
thousand five hundred roubles a month, supplemented by the 
Red Army ration and occasional gifts from his old soldiers, 
many of whom were prosperous peasants living near Moscow, 
and they never came to town without bringing him butter, 
honey, milk, or sour cream, of which the Russians are inordi- 
nately fond. I happened to be dining with them one day when 
they had received such a windfall. We had sorrel soup with 
sour whipped cream floating on top, kasha with butter, black 
bread and tea with honey instead of sugar. 

Brusilov's attitude towards the Soviet Government was 
frankly antagonistic as far as the principles on which it was 
based were concerned, but he was intensely nationalistic in 
feeling and violently opposed to intervention. 


"We got ourselves into this mess," he often said to me, 
"through our own indifference and selfishness and corruption, 
and our utter inability to read the signs of the times. It is up 
to us to get ourselves out of it. If we are unable to do this 
we deserve any form of government that may be imposed 
upon us." 

He despised the emigrants who were always hatching out- 
side plots, safely ensconced in London, Berlin or Paris, and 
when the Poles began their offensive he wrote the famous 
letter to the Commissariat of War offering his services to the 

He was made chairman of an advisory commission to the 
General Staff, of which Polivanov, former Minister of War, 
and General Klembovski were also members. They were 
never trusted by the Red Army General Staff, however, and 
their activities were confined to advising measures to facilitate 
transportation of food supplies and troop movements from the 
reserve bases to the fighting front. They also received and 
made recommendations on thousands of letters from former 
Imperial officers who were in internment camps offering to 
serve in the Red Army against the Poles. General Brusilov 
estimated, at the beginning of the Polish offensive, that ap- 
proximately 100,000 former officers were interned. Most 
of them were actuated by nationalistic feeling, but there were 
undoubtedly numbers who hoped by this means to bring 
about a counter-revolution. Brusilov himself never believed 
in this possibility, and I know for a fact that he steadily re- 
fused secret offers to place himself at the head of such a move- 
ment. Something of the sort was actually organized, culminat- 
ing in the late summer of 1920 in the arrest of an entire de- 
partment of the General Staff and a number of distinguished 
officers, among whom was General Klembovski. 

While not trusting Brusilov to the extent of giving him 
any real responsibility, the government did not hesitate to 
make use of him for furthering enlistment propaganda against 
the Poles. Despatches stating that Brusilov was at Kiev, on 
the Beresina, or at the Wrangel front were published in the 
Isvestia or the Pravda, often on the very day when I was 


having tea with him and his wife in their apartment in Mos- 
cow, and we used to laugh about it together. "Actually," he 
said, "I probably know less about the situation on the front 
than you do, for you hear the gossip at the Foreign Office." 

Madame Brusilov, who had a sister in America, Mrs. 
Vera Johnston of Brooklyn, and who was a niece of Mme. 
Blavatsky, enjoyed hearing my accounts of life in America, 
and I spent many happy hours at their house. I was also an 
intimate friend of the wife of their only son, a young officer 
who had joined the Red Army and who disappeared on the 
Denikin front in the summer of 1919. They had never heard 
a word as to his fate. The Red Army authorities simply re- 
ported him as missing, but there were many rumors with re- 
gard to his disappearance. Some people asserted that he had 
attempted to pass over to the Whites and had been killed by 
the Bolsheviks, others that he had been taken prisoner and 
executed by Denikin, still others that he was fighting with 
Wrangel under an assumed name. Young Mme. Brusilov was 
herself employed in the War Department and managed to live 
very comfortably, supplementing her rations by selling the 
many beautiful things she had inherited from her grandmother, 
who belonged to one of the oldest and richest families in Mos- 
cow. She kept an apartment of two rooms, kitchenette and 
bath in what was formerly her grandmother's home, part of 
the house being used by a section of the Commissariat of War 
and the remaining rooms occupied by M, Ugrimov, a distin- 
guished Russian engineer and an old friend of the family. 

She very often gave informal parties, at which there were 
wives of former generals, professors and army men. Many 
of her friends were in prison and she spent much of her time 
taking food packages to the Checka, the Butierki, and other 
prisons. One of them was Professor Yakovlev of the Uni- 
versity of Petrograd, who had been condemned to death in 
connection with a counter-revolutionary plot at the time of 
the Yudenitch offensive, but had not been executed owing to 
the fact that he was desperately ill with a heart affection. 
His wife, whom I often saw at the house of Madame Brusilov, 
was arrested late in the summer because she lived with Mme. 


Rodzianko, whose husband was, and still is, very active in 
fomenting counter-revolutionary plots in Poland against the 
Bolsheviks. Mme. Brusilov's uncle, Professor Kotlerevsky 
of the University of Moscow, was arrested later and placed on 
trial for his life in connection with the activities of the so- 
called Tactical Center, a nonpartisan organization which had 
for its avowed object the fight for free speech, free press and 
free party activity in Russia. 

I attended the trial, which was most dramatic, with Mme. 
Brusilov. It was held in the amphitheater of the Moscow 
Polytechnic School and the public was admitted. It lasted 
for four days. The three judges sat at a plain deal table 
covered with red bunting on the stage facing the audience. 
The accused, twenty-eight in number, were placed in the space 
usually occupied by the orchestra at theatrical performances, 
separated from the audience by two rows of vacant seats which 
had been roped off and were guarded by a detachment of the 
militiamen of the Extraordinary Commission. The public 
prosecutor, Krilienko, a brilliant speaker, was also one of the 
judges, which seemed to me a most unfair arrangement. Each 
prisoner was allowed to make a speech in his own defense, 
and they were represented by M. Mouraviev, head of the 
Political Red Cross, a former well-known lawyer in Moscow. 

Among them were many notable persons, including Chep- 
kin, a well-known leader of the Cadet party, whose brother 
served on the recently formed and almost as promptly dis- 
solved Russian Famine Relief Committee; Prince Ourosov, at 
whose house, as nearly as I can recollect, the murder of Lenin 
was attempted, and Alexandra Lvovna Tolstoi, youngest 
daughter of the great novelist. Professor Kotlerevski, who 
was intensely nervous throughout the trial, broke down under 
the grilling of Krilienko and made a full confession. He was 
sentenced to three years' internment, but was released on 
parole immediately after the trial. 

Alexandra Lvovna Tolstoi made a brilliant speech in her 
own defense, stating that she had joined the movement not as 
a counter-revolutionary but as a believer in her father's doc- 
trine of pacifism. She opposed the Soviet Government on 


these grounds, and also as an individualist, in favor of ma- 
jority rule and against the dictatorship of any minority. She 
then added, with a fine gesture, that they might do what they 
pleased with her body, that she would always be free morally 
and spiritually, no matter how long she might be kept in prison. 

One of the other prisoners, a man named Morosov, in his 
defense expressed the opinion of a number of the intellectuals 
who have remained in Russia throughout the Revolution. He 
said that unfortunately he had spent most of his time in prison 
since the Revolution and was therefore not able to carry out 
his intentions, but that if released he would be willing to de- 
vote his energies to working with, though not for, the Soviet 
Government out of love for Russia, because he realized that 
cooperation with the existing administration was the only 
way to prevent the utter collapse of Russia's economic and in- 
dustrial system, and untold misery to the Russian people. 
There are thousands of nonpartisan workers in every depart- 
ment of the Soviet administration today who share the same 
views. They admit that the political domination of the Com- 
munist party is absolute and complete, but they foresee an 
eventual political change following the inevitable economic 

They believe that they can best serve their country by 
keeping the work of the various governmental departments 
going, so that when the change comes there will not be utter 
demoralization and anarchy. All public improvements which 
are possible under the present regime, all schemes such as the 
electrification of the villages, reconstruction of railroads and 
bridges, installation of new power plants and factories, new 
and scientific methods in the departments of public health, 
agriculture and education, are being carried on principally 
by these men. They regard it as no disloyalty to do this, be- 
lieving that they can be of more use to their country at the 
present time by doing such work than by engaging in useless 
counter-revolutionary activities. 

Although an attempt was made to prove that the Tactical 
Center was counter-revolutionary, it served merely for the 
interchange of ideas between men and women of this type, 


and the government was, I believe, fully aware of this fact, 
but it suited the purpose of the Checka at the time to hold a 
trial and make an apparently generous gesture by releasing all 
the prisoners, knowing all the while that it was perfectly safe 
to do so. If they had been really dangerous conspirators they 
would have had short shrift and a secret trial. The maximum 
sentence imposed was ten years in an internment camp for the 
four alleged leaders, and all were released on parole within a 
short time. 

I had met Alexandra Lvovna Tolstoi before her arrest at 
the home of Vladimir Tchertkov, a charming old gentleman, 
who was a close friend of Count Tolstoi, who had made him 
his literary executor. A family quarrel had arisen over this 
matter. Count Ilya Tolstoi, the eldest son, and his other chil- 
dren maintaining that Tchertkov had no right to renunciation 
of all rights of publication of Tolstoi's works and the royalties 
therefrom, which Tchertkov had made in accordance with the 
wishes of his friend. Tchertkov is today the leader of the 
remnant of Tolstoians in Russia, and the head of a nonsecta- 
rian league, composed of various denominations, all of whom 
are pacifists. 

They had until recently an office on the Pokrovka in Mos- 
cow and were left undisturbed until they became active in 
supporting conscientious objectors to army service, of whom 
there are a considerable number in Russia. For a time 
Tchertkov acted as head of an advisory board to the General 
Staff to pass on such cases, for the Soviet Government recog- 
nizes the validity of the claims of conscientious objectors if 
based on the tenets of the religious sect to which they belong; 
but Tchertkov wished to push the matter further and secure 
the recognition of cases of individual objectors. He had many 
tilts with the War Office over this matter, but his age and his 
friendship with Tolstoi, for whose memory even the Com- 
munists have considerable veneration, secured him immunity. 

He and his wife were desperately poor, for they lived on 
the utterly inadequate ration given to persons over the legal 
working age, and I really believe that they would have starved 
to death if it had not been for the gifts of the peasants from 


Tolstoi's estate near Colomna, about sixty versts from Moscow, 
who came all the way on foot to bring them enough food to 
keep them aHve. Tchertkov was constantly working on some 
Utopian scheme or other, and he managed to publish some 
pacifist brochures, which he distributed among the militia and 
members of the Moscow garrison. He was always running 
about Moscow on some such errand, and was also working on 
a new and revised edition of Tolstoi's works to be published 
by the Commissariat of Education. At his house I renewed 
my acquaintance with Paul Birukov, Tolstoi's biographer, 
whom I had known in Switzerland. He and his wife and son 
returned to Moscow during the summer and the son became 
a Communist, but Birukov, like many another old revolu- 
tionary, was bitterly disappointed in the Revolution. 


My first arrest, which occurred on Good Friday, April 4th, 
was not, I must confess, entirely unexpected. At this time the 
political situation, which had been much improved when I first 
arrived, was growing more unstable day by day. It had been 
confidently expected that the secret armistice with Poland 
would develop into a formal cessation of hostilities, followed 
by peace negotiations. The death penalty was abolished; ar- 
rests by the Checka had been much less frequent, people 
thought less about plots and spies, and more about reconstruc- 
tion. Denikin was defeated, the Seventh Army, the Third 
Army and many other individual army units had been turned 
into working battalions. The papers published despatches 
every day from the "bloodless front"; there was much talk 
of the rebuilding of industry, public improvements, and the 
Russians were just beginning to breathe more freely and react 
from war psychosis. The underground organization of the 
Right and Left Social Revolutionaries was beginning to func- 
tion, the Mensheviks were seeking more recognition for the 
trades unions and a modification of Communist tactics, when 
it became evident that the Poles, backed by France, were about 
to start an offensive. Repressive measures were immediately 
taken, the attitude of the government towards its political op- 
ponents became more severe, arrests of all persons who had re- 
cently arrived from Poland began, and I was one of them. 

In addition, I had committed many imprudences. In the 
first place, I had associated openly with people who were 
known to be hostile to the Soviet Government. I had rendered 
myself absolutely independent of the Foreign Office and its 
interpreters, I had changed foreign money illegally to get 
the advantage of the higher rate of exchange, I had attended 
the Communist party conference where I had no earthly right 



to be, and had gone with Mr. McCullagh to the secret exhibi- 
tion of the Rosta in the Kremlin which was meant only for 
delegates to the conference. For some time I had been given 
suspicious freedom of movement and I had several times 
felt that the Checka was only giving me rope to hang myself. 

About a week before my arrest and that of Mr, McCullagh, 
which took place on the same night, Dr. Karlin, he and I were 
moved from our comfortable quarters in the Horitonevski on 
the pretense that it was to be used by the English Labor dele- 
gation, not due until June, to the Savoy, also a government 
guest house. The Savoy, which was formerly one of the 
largest hotels in Moscow, was a place where arrests were fre- 
quently made and it contained a number of strange foreign 
guests, many of them like ourselves under suspicion. An 
arrest in a large place like the Savoy is apt to pass unnoticed 
and causes less comment than in a small place like the Hori- 
tonevski. We rather suspected something was wrong when 
we went there, but at first it was rather amusing. 

My room was large and cheerful, well heated, but in a 
shocking state of disrepair; there was a comfortable mattress, 
but no sheets on the bed, which was infested with hosts of 
insect pests, against whom boiling water and kerosene were 
powerless. The plumbing was out of order and there were 
no bathing facilities. Nevertheless I was so much diverted 
by the strange conglomerate company among which I found 
myself at meal times in the dining room, where our fare was 
very similar to that in our former quarters, that I forgot to 
fuss over the increased discomfort or trouble my head over the 
suspicious circumstances of our transfer. 

The Savoy was very convenient, being close to the Foreign 
Office, and I did not have the long half -hour walk home in the 
wee small hours, which was rather pleasant. 

One night I had stayed there very late as usual, and was 
crossing the broad theater Boulevard between the Metropole 
and the Rozhestvenka where the Savoy was located, when a 
soldier stepped up to me and asked very politely: 

"Vasha familiaf — your name?" 

"Garrison," I answered, that being the name by which I 


was known in Russia as the Russian language has no letter 


"Your Christian name?" he continued. 

"Marguerita Bernardnova," I answered. 

"You're arrested," he announced cheerfully, much in the 
same way he would have told me I was taking the wrong turn 
in the street had he been a London bobby instead of a Moscow 
Checkist. I accompanied him to the office of the secret section 
of the Checka at Lubianka 2, where I was placed in solitary 
confinement and put through two rigid cross-examinations dur- 
ing which I was grilled about my friends in Moscow, my Polish 
connections and various other matters. 

Meanwhile Dr. Karlin and Mr. McCullagh had been ar- 
rested at the Savoy. My room had been searched and all my 
baggage and papers seized. I will not enter into my experi- 
ences during my first sojourn in the Checka, as I shall describe 
conditions at the Lubianka more fully when I tell of my second 
arrest. The upshot of it all was that as I had taken no part in 
any party activities or plots against the Soviet Government, 
and convinced the prassidium that I was not a Polish spy, I was 
released after being detained for forty-eight hours, allowed 
to return to the Savoy and given back all my baggage and my 
typewriter. I was told that I would be free to pursue my work, 
but that permission to leave the country could not be given me 
for any definite period, certainly not until the Polish situation 
cleared up. This was a measure of ordinary prudence under 
the circumstances, for had I so chosen, if permitted to leave the 
country, I could have undoubtedly furnished valuable infor- 
mation to the Polish Government. 

I promised at that time to avoid certain places and people 
and to do certain things. These promises, candidly, I could 
not and did not keep. This furnished full justification for my 
arrest six months later. I never had any personal feeling 
against the Checka or the Soviet Government for their action 
with regard to me. Beset as they were at that time by enemies 
on all sides within and without, it was quite natural to anyone 
who understood their methods and psychology. Many other 
foreigners who had come to Moscow with the full permission 


of the Soviet Government were arrested on much more trivial 

The day after my own release I was rejoined by Mr. Mc- 
Cullagh, whose real identity had not been discovered by the 
Checka. I first met him in March when he arrived from 
Siberia with a safe conduct from Jansen, Soviet Commissar 
at Omsk. He had convinced them that he was merely a harm- 
less newspaper man of unpractical, dreamy tendencies with a 
proclivity for getting himself innocently into awkward situ- 
ations. A mass of notes, distinctly unfavorable to the Kol- 
chak regime, w^hich he had made during his trip across Siberia, 
helped to bolster up his case, and he was hoping to make a 
quick getaway under the pretext that it was very important for 
him to get his book on Kolchak out as soon as possible. He 
also had an enormous amount of interesting matter with regard 
to the murder of the Czar and the Imperial family at Ekater- 
inenbourg, all of which, like many other data, he had not writ- 
ten down fully in his notes. An English echelon of civilians 
and prisoners of war released under the Litvinov-O'Grady ar- 
rangement was leaving very shortly, and he planned to leave at 
the same time. 

With this end in view, he was a frequent visitor at the 
home of the Reverend Frank North, the Anglican clergyman 
at Moscow who had been unofficially in charge of the interests 
of British citizens, and of British Red Cross work for political 
prisoners and prisoners of war, since the rupture of relations 
between Great Britain and Russia in the latter part of 1918. 

With only a few supplies from England he managed to 
look after all the English prisoners and a number of dependent 
civilians, collecting large sums to purchase food in Moscow by 
the following method : He took from English and Russian 
subjects Soviet or Czar or Kerensky roubles, giving them 
receipts payable in sterling at the Bank of England at a fixed 
rate of exchange. The Russians took chances on hiding 
these receipts and smuggling them out of the country. Some 
of those who did business with Mr. North in this manner 
were caught and paid the penalty in terms of imprisonmef^-, 
but the majority escaped, and I know of several instances Vn 


which very considerable sums were transferred to safety in this 
manner. The Britishers at first hid their receipts also and took 
them out of the country, but at the time of the departure 
of the last two echelons, searches were growing- more strict, 
and Mr. North advised them to remember the amounts and 
destroy them, promising to furnish them with duphcates as 
soon as the Finnish frontier was crossed. The officers of 
General Knox's Siberian Mission who were captured at Omsk, 
whom Mr. North kept well supplied with comforts and even 
luxuries, were in the Andronovski prison camp. 

They were allowed a considerable amount of freedom, sev- 
eral of them coming in every Sunday to service at the British 
church. One afternoon, by invitation, with the permission of 
the Foreign Office, I went to tea with the officers in the camp. 
The Andronovski, which was formerly a monastery, is the 
place where many of the American prisoners were confined. It 
is a picturesque agglomeration of buildings on a high hill on 
the right bank of the Moskva river, which divides the city into 
two parts. Around the enclosure runs a high white wall, for 
all monasteries were built in a semi-fortified manner, at first 
to protect them against the ever present menace of Tartar and 
Polish invasions, later to guard them and their treasures 
against internal disturbances. Inside there are large grounds 
with old fruit trees and the remains of flower and vegetable 
gardens. In the center court where the prisoners take their 
exercise are the tombs of the former monks with their ornate 
iron crosses. Entrance to the court is through an imposing 
gateway with beautiful wrought iron gates, crowned by a 
tall bell tower. On the right is the church, on the left what 
was formerly the residence of the Abbot, now the office of the 

We presented our permits at the wicket, and were shown 
into the courtyard by the Red soldier on guard. The officers' 
quarters were in a long building on the left side of the court 
which had served as living quarters for the monks. Their 
beds were in a spacious dormitory on the second floor. They 
had their own stove, for which they cut the wood themselves, 
and they did their own cooking. Adjoining the dormitory was 


a large recreation room where there was a piano. On Sunday 
afternoons they were allowed to receive visitors, and many 
Russian girls as well as members of the English colony used 
to gather there for informal tea parties. I was allowed to talk 
to the officers quite freely, though always in the presence of the 
representative of the Foreign Office who accompanied us, and I 
was given good English tea with white bread and buttef and 
English cigarettes. The officers told me that, all things 
considered, they were very comfortable. 

Once a week they were taken in a big motor lorry to the 
opera or the theater, and they were frequently permitted to 
go into Moscow with an escort in groups of twos or threes 
to do their shopping or to visit Mr. North at the Rectory. 
They were not supposed to visit their friends in private fami- 
lies, but as a matter of fact they often did so, and stayed to 
supper if they happened to have an obliging guard. The other 
prisoners in the Andronovski, political prisoners and hostages, 
among whom were a number of Hungarian officers, were not 
allowed as much liberty as the British officers and occupied 
different quarters. At that time there were two Americans 
there. Dr. Lambie, a well-known Moscow dentist, who had 
lived in Russia for nearly thirty years, and Alfred Hipman, 
formerly doorkeeper at the American Consulate. They de- 
clared that they were held as hostages ; the Bolshevik authori- 
ties insinuated that they were held for speculation. No charges 
were ever preferred against them, however, and after three 
months both were released. 

I was also once invited to meet the British officers at the 
opera where they occupied the former Imperial box. Before 
the departure of the English echelons I spent much time at the 
rectory, doing typewriting for Mr. North, making out receipts 
for the money he had received from private individuals, and 
lists of the passengers. After many delays the last train 
finally left early in May. Mr. North and his wife, before 
leaving, were subjected to a rather disagreeable ordeal in 
which they were compelled to appear several times before the 
Checka, on the charge that he had handled some of the money 
alleged to have been spent in counter-revolutionary activities 


by Paul Dukes, but he always claimed that he had no knowl- 
edge whatever of the uses to which these funds were to be put. 
The Checka, however, was very anxious to discredit Mr. North, 
and being unable to get anything incriminating from him, pub- 
lished an alleged confession of Mrs. North, in which she was 
said to have revealed her husband's connection with Dukes. 
They were satisfied with instituting a civil suit against Mr. 
North, and allowed him to leave the country before the case 
came to trial. The English Rectory was taken over by the 
Foreign Office and subsequently assigned to the Danish Red 

Dr. Karlin was detained for about a week after which she 
spent a short time with me at the Savoy and then, having 
secured an appointment as a Red Army physician once more, 
she left for the Polish front and I never saw her again. I re- 
mained at the Savoy for several weeks and took up my old 
life just the same as ever. An indefinite stay in Russia was 
opening before me, but I was determined to make the best of 
it and accept the inevitable. Besides life was intensely interest- 
ing and by no means devoid of excitement and amusement. 

The official host at the Savoy was an employee of the 
Foreign Office, Sabanyin by name, a man of very good family, 
who had formerly been in the Czar's diplomatic service. Other 
employees of the Foreign Office who lived there were a Soviet 
courier, who made the trip several times a month from Moscow 
to Murmansk, and Dmitri Florinsky, a Russian of cosmopoli- 
tan experience, who had been at one time in the office of the 
Russian Vice Consul in New York and had many friends in 
America. His father, a Ukrainian nobleman, had been shot at 
Kiev at the beginning of the revolution. While spiritually 
converted to Communism, so he averred, Florinsky was in ap- 
pearance a typical boulevardier. He was always dressed in the 
pink of perfection, with matching ties, handkerchiefs and 
socks; his life was miserable until he discovered a Chinese 
laundry where he could have his collars done at three hundred 
roubles apiece. He was very fond of a hand of bridge or a 
good game of poker, and he never got up until eleven or twelve 
in the morning. Then there were a solemn Czech Communist 


who was writing a book on Soviet Russia, several Swedish 
business men, a German working men's delegation, Dr. Barra- 
katula, a well-known Hindu professor, who later departed on 
a mysterious mission in the direction of Boukhara and Khiva, 
where a revolution shortly after occurred ; a Hindu nationalist, 
Dr. Mansur, whom strangely enough I had seen and heard speak 
at a meeting in Berlin during the previous year, and a former 
Austrian general staff officer, Meyerhoeffer, who was in 
Russia to negotiate an agreement for the repatriation of Aus- 
trian prisoners of war. There was also a mysterious Russian 
gentleman who said very little but looked and listened a lot. 
I afterwards made his acquaintance in the Checka. 

Some weeks later I got back my room at the Horitonevski. 
There I found several new guests, among them Dr. Alfons 
Goldschmidt, a German publicist, who was compiling a book 
on trades unions in Russia; and a Japanese journaHst, Fusi 
of the Osaka Mainichi, who had come to Moscow with per- 
mission of the Soviet Government but was regarded with grave 
suspicion on account of the fact that he had, before the Revo- 
lution, been attached to the Japanese embassy in Petrograd as 
an Intelligence Officer. He was placed under house arrest only, 
thanks to the intervention of the Foreign Office, which is not 
always able to protect its guests against the Checka. Fusi 
was occasionally allowed to go out with an escort, but almost 
all of his information was based on what he read in the papers. 
Apropos of the news furnished by the Soviet papers the Bol- 
sheviks themselves have a saying which I often heard repeated 
with great gusto. The two leading papers in Moscow are the 
Isvestia, which means "news," and the Pravda\, meaning 
"truth." The saying is, "There is no news in the truth, and 
no truth in the news." 

At this time the situation in the Near East was very inter- 
esting. Georgia and Azerbazjan had gone Red; the nation- 
alist movements in Anatolia and Northern Persia were well 
under way; the Siberian Far Eastern Republic had just en- 
tered into existence ; a Pan-Mohammedan Congress was being 
held at the Foreign Office. The proceedings of this Congress 
were shrouded in mystery, but they concerned the vast Asiatic 


nationalist conspiracy, sponsored by the Bolsheviks, of which 
I saw many evidences during my stay in Russia. 

Consequently I was often obliged to go to the Eastern 
Section of the Foreign Office for news and information. When 
I first arrived in Moscow it was in charge of a Left Social 
Revolutionary, named Vosnesyensky. He was an experienced 
diplomatist, trained under Nicholas II, and had spent most of 
his time when not in prison for his revolutionary activities, 
in diplomatic posts in India, China and Japan. He spoke 
four or five Eastern languages and several dialects fluently; 
there was even something oriental about his mask-like impas- 
sive face with its parchment skin, and high domed forehead 
and deepset grey eyes. He was always at loggerheads with 
the government but Chicherin employed him because he could 
not find anyone who was as well fitted for the position. 

Vosnesyensky dreamed of a Soviet imperialism that would 
make Russia mistress of all Asia. He had a propaganda map, 
which he once let me see in which centers of Bolshevik agita- 
tion were marked with little red circles. They extended all 
over Asia and there were even several of them in the Philip- 
pines. Under his supervision men were trained and sent out to 
each of these countries, and he supervised the publication of an 
immense amount of propaganda literature in every oriental 
language. Vosnesyensky was frankly a militarist. He be- 
lieved in taking the offensive against Japan and backing open 
revolt of the nationalists in Persia, India and Asia Minor; 
he favored supporting the southern Chinese government, and 
stimulating a revolution in Korea. 

"If my plans are followed," he said to me once, "within a 
year all Asia will be aflame." They were not followed, how- 
ever. The policy of Chicherin was too subtle and opportunistic 
for Vosnesyensky; he failed to take the economic situation of 
Russia into account in his calculations. Finally he got himself 
so hopelessly embroiled with the Foreign Office that he was 
threatened with arrest but was eventually allowed to resign and 
retire to the country where he was living with his wife at 
the time of my second arrest. Like many other Soviet intran- 
sigeants, I lirinly believe that Vosnesyensky was an unconscious 


nationalist; his aim was to see the Slav and Slav influence pre- 
dominant in Europe and in Asia. 

It was in Vosnesyensky's office that I met Krasnoschokov, 
the head of the Far Eastern Republic. Krasnoschokov was 
quite well known in America. He lived for many years in 
Chicago under the name of Tobelson, where he was the head 
of a Jewish orphan asylum and I believe practiced law as 
well. He was a man of extremely liberal views, recognizing 
the fact that a coalition government in Siberia was absolutely 
necessary, and he fought the matter out successfully with Mos- 
cow. Krasnoschokov is a man in the late forties, a Jew of 
the blond type, smooth-shaven, with a firm, square jaw and 
keen grey eyes. Naturally he speaks English very well. He 
believed it would be a long time before the majority of the 
population in Siberia would come to accept a Soviet Govern- 
ment based on strictly Communistic principles, and considered 
that it was wiser to first build up the resources of the country 
under a modified capitalistic system. 

Personally I believe that Krasnoschokov is an extremely 
good politician and something of an opportunist. He will 
steer a middle course in Siberia as long as he can, then swing 
to the right or left, according to the state of the political 

The Commissar from Omsk who succeeded Vosnesyensky 
as head of the Eastern Section of the Foreign Office was a very 
liberal man and he was responsible for safe conducts issued 
to many Americans and Englishmen who later arrived in 
Moscow with his permission and were decidedly unwelcome 
guests of the Soviet Government. 

Occasionally I had fantastic experiences w^hich gave me 
queer glimpses into the underworld of intrigue and propa- 
ganda in Moscow. Once I was called on the telephone by a 
mysterious person who asked me if I would he willing to trans- 
late an article from an English magazine into German. 

"Certainly," I answered, "but before I can state my terms, 
I must see the article and know with whom I am dealing." 

"My principal cannot tell his name," was the answer. 

By this time my curiosity was aroused, so I told the man 


to bring me the article. It proved to be an article on the 
cq)bers in use in the British War Office and the publication 
in which it appeared was the British Army Journal. I cannot 
imagirte what use it would have been to the ov»Tier, as the 
British certainly do not publish the keys to their most secret 
ciphers, but there was evidently some reason which I could 
not fathom. I put a prohibitive price on my services and 
never heard anything more from my mysterious German 

Among my acquaintances was a German aviation officer 
who had flown to Russia in the autumn of 1919 with the 
first drugs and medical supplies brought from Germany. His 
plane had fallen near Mtebsk and he had been badlj^ injured, 
but after his recover}- he remained in ^loscow for many 
months, well treated and apparenth- on a mission from the 
German junkers who were undoubtedly intriguing with the 
Soviet Government at the time of the Kapp Putsch in Berlin. 

I also met a Hungarian, posing as the agent of the Red 
Cross, universally condemned as an international crook and 
speculator, and yet he seemed to enjoy pecuHar immunit}', 
coming and going between Russia and Berlin with great fre- 
quenc}-. The German officer lived at his apartment Such 
dues picked up from time to time were ver}* interesting to 
me. I wondered if, after all, the Allies had only scotched their 
snake, not killed him. Many stray bits of evidence seemed to 
point to the fact that Pan-Germanism is slowly and painfully 
beginning to blaze a new trail from Berlin to Bagdad, via 
Moscow and Tashkend. 

Once I had a telephone message from a Russian who re- 
fused to give his name and asked me to meet him at an ap- 
pointed time on a certain street comer. Curiosity got the 
better of prudence and I went. There I found a young man 
exceedingly well dressed, of rather prepossessing appearance. 
He had a short, curly beard, and when I looked at him more 
closely I saw that it was false. This at once aroused my 
suspicions. He proceeded to tell me, with an apparent amaz- 
ing lack of caution, without stopping to find out my own 
political opinions, that he was a counter-re\-olutionar}-, in fact 


a Monarchist. His father and two brothers had been shot, he 
told me, under the most brutal circumstances, and his one 
thought was revenge. He was connected with a counter-revo- 
lutionary Russian group in Berlin, of whom the head was a 
man whose name, as I recall it, was General Bitkopski; he 
would be undyingly grateful to me if, on leaving Russia I 
would agree to take a letter through to the general. 

I told him that his confidence in a stranger was over- 
whelming, to say the least. "Moreover," I added, "if you 
are trying to conceal your identity you should be a little more 
careful about the way you put on that false beard." He was 
nothing more or less than an agent of the Moscow Checka 
who had been sent to test my political opinions. 


Endless visits to commissars, commissariats and Soviet 
institutions form part of the regular routine of foreign cor- 
respondents in Moscow. They usually take up a tremendous 
amount of time and energy, owing partly to the fact that no 
Russian has the faintest value of time and partly to the 
enormous distances to be covered. The street railway system 
does not operate between October and the end of April, and 
when the cars started running they were always so crowded 
that it was as much as one's life was worth to get on, much 
less secure a seat, as there was a tremendous car shortage. 
Isvostchiks were outrageously expensive. I never understood 
why, in view of the utterly inadequate transportation facilities, 
the Soviet Government did not nationalize the cabbies. They 
were the most brazen profiteers in Moscow. It was impossible 
even after bargaining for at least ten minutes to induce one to 
take you anywhere for less than fifteen hundred roubles, this 
at a time when a rouble was twenty-five hundred to the dollar, 
and a trip of any length cost from ten to twelve thousand 
roubles. Occasionally we were promised a government auto- 
mobile, but it frequently failed to show up altogether or ar- 
rived an hour or two late. Kerosene was the only motor fuel, 
all cars were in bad condition and we often got stuck in the 
snow, or broke down by the roadside. Consequently I made 
most of these excursions on foot. 

It often happened that commissars forgot their engage- 
ments or absented themselves without a word of apology as in 
the case of H. N. Brailsford, the distinguished English jour- 
nalist, who stayed at my guest house. Although he was writ- 
ing for the London Daily Herald, which was said to be sub- 
sidized by the Soviet Government, he left Russia without see- 
ing either Lenin or Lunacharsky, the two men he particularly 



wished to see, with both of whom he had engagements which 
were broken at the last minute. I was more fortunate, owing 
to the fact that I spent a much longer time in Russia than most 
correspondents, and was able to accommodate myself to Rus- 
sian habits of procrastination. 

Perhaps the most interesting of my interviews with various 
commissars was one with Djerzhinsky, Commissar of Internal 
Affairs and Chairman of the Extraordinary Commission, 
popularly known as the Checka, who, as it afterwards proved, 
was my jailer for nearly a year. He was probably meditating 
locking me up when I called on him in the early Spring at his 
office in the headquarters of the Extraordinary Commission, a 
ramshackle building on the Lubianka. I arrived at the ap- 
pointed time, and was escorted up a narrow stairway into a 
rather gloomy room with two windows looking out into a 
small court. There was apparently only one door, that by 
which I had come in, two sides were lined with bookcases 
reaching almost to the ceiling. I was told by a clerk that the 
Commissar would see me in a few minutes. In a little while 
a desk telephone rang, the clerk got up, and much to my amaze- 
ment, opened the door of one of the bookcases and asked me 
to walk in. It was a secret passage leading to Djerzhinsky's 
office, a tiny cabinet with one window. Seated at a huge 
desk was a mild looking little blond man, whom I at first 
took for Djerzhinsky's secretary, and it was at least a minute 
before I realized that I was talking to the most feared man in 
all Russia. 

Djerzhinsky is a Pole of very good family and inherited 
estates near Svenchiani in the province of Vilna. He has been 
a Revolutionary since before the Revolution of 1905 and spent 
eleven years in prison under Nicholas 11. As I looked at him 
I recalled what I had read of the frailty and refinement of 
Robespierre. He is slender, slightly under the middle height, 
with fair hair, rather thin around the temples, a small pointed 
beard, clean cut, aristocratic features, skin as smooth as a 
child's and cheeks flushed with hectic color, for he contracted 
tuberculosis while in prison. I had dozens of questions to ask 
him, but he forestalled them all by describing to me the activi- 


ties of the Extraordinary Commission since its creation in the 
early days of the Revolution, stating quite frankly that it was 
an organization duplicating in many respects, the Okhrana, 
the Czar's secret police, but that it was both justified and neces- 
sitated by post-revolutionary conditions. He claimed, and I 
believe this to be substantially true, that the majority of exe- 
cutions in Russia at the present time, are not political, but 
chiefly for banditism, speculation, espionage and army de- 

It is perfectly true that the Checka has succeeded in re- 
storing order in the great cities. Moscow and Petrograd are 
safer for the average citizen, as far as highway robbery and 
lawlessness are concerned, than any of the large cities of 
Europe or America, but, on the other hand, he is never safe 
from arrest. 

Two stories which came to my personal knowledge will 
serve to illustrate the methods of the Checka. A commissar 
in charge of issuing food cards devised a scheme, with the 
cooperation of six of his employees, of issuing three hundred 
food cards to fictitious individuals. The supplies collected in 
this manner were sold by the gang on the open market, the 
commissar receiving sixty per cent of the proceeds and his 
confederates the remainder. In time of partial famine, such 
as actually then existed in Moscow, there could be no greater 
crime against the community. The man was detected by the 
Checka and shot. He certainly richly deserved his fate. 

On the other hand, I knew of two brothers who were ar- 
rested for counter-revolutionary activities. They had no ac- 
complices and the only way to convict them was to get one 
to implicate the other. After repeated cross-examinations the 
examining judge found that the elder brother was of a far 
more nervous temperament than his junior, so he resorted to 
strategy. He informed him that his brother had been shot 
and that the only way for him to save himself was to confess 
his part in the affair. The man refused to believe him. 

"Very well," said the judge, "we will show you his dead 

Meanwhile he compelled the younger brother to undress 


and had ordered his clothes put on the body of a man who 
had really been shot. It was placed in a dimly lighted room, 
the face of the corpse being purposely disfigured by gunshot 
wounds, that would make identification difficult, but the two 
men were very similar in build. Being completely unnerved 
the elder brother was not disposed to be too minute in his 
examination of the body and believing it to be that of his 
brother he made a full confession. He was then taken to his 
cell where he awaited his release. After three weeks he was 
summoned by one of the Checka guards and taken to a court- 
room of the Revolutionary tribunal where he was confronted 
with his brother against whom he was the principal witness. 
With regard to shootings which actually occurred in 
Moscow during my stay, I believe the monthly statistics pub- 
lished by the Checka to be approximately correct. There were 
several hundred each in March, April and May, increasing to 
about six hundred in June, and eight hundred in July, owing 
to the Polish offensive. Few people were shot as counter- 
revolutionists, the majority being committed to internment 
camps. No one is shot at the present time on sight, so to speak, 
and all accused prisoners go through some form of trial 
either before the Revolutionary Tribunals or the Prsesidium, 
the governing body of the Checka. People were arrested and 
often held for months for the most trivial reasons, frequently 
as witnesses or again simply for the purpose of isolation during 
political agitations. The whole system is bad in theory, in 
practice it is subject to many abuses, and often misused for 
the gratification of personal grievances. But terrorism as we 
understand the word does not exist except in provincial prisons 
where cruel or unscrupulous officials often order unjustified 
executions without the knowledge or sanction of Moscow. 
Many liberal Communists are much opposed to the Checka and 
it is planned to eventually abolish it altogether, putting the 
entire administration of justice in the hands of the People's 
Courts, with right of appeal to the Central Executive Com- 
mittee sitting as the Supreme Court. But the Checka has a 
strong hold and is supported by the ultramontane elements in 
the Communist party. Whenever there is an agitation for the 


abolishment of the Extraordinary Commission or curbing its 
power to inflict the death sentence, the Pravda and Isvcstia are 
filled with accounts of dangerous conspiracies frequently said 
to be instigated from abroad. Unfortunately there is just 
enough truth in them to support the claim of the Checka that 
it is a necessary institution. 

Kursky, the Commissar of Justice, formerly a well-known 
lawyer, who is in charge of the People's Courts, told me that 
he was working on a scheme for a code of laws based on the 
decrees of the Council of People's Commissars and other ad- 
ministrative bodies, which for the present take the place of 
laws. They are constantly changing and are frequently inno- 
cently violated by people who have not had time or who are 
unable to read them as published in the newspapers pasted on 
the walls, which are their only source of information. 

Once I took an all day trip with Rickov, then Chairman 
of the Supreme Economic Council, to inspect a new electric 
power plant in process of construction some sixty versts from 
Moscow. In our party were Losovsky, Chairman of the AU- 
Russian Council of Trades Unions, a number of engineers and 
several foreign correspondents. On the train I had a long 
conversation with Rickov, who was formerly one of the heads 
of the cooperatives. He told me something of the organization 
of the Supreme Council, which at that time had fifty depart- 
ments controlling nearly five thousand nationalized industries, 
and all the cooperatives, comprising the entire machinery of 
production and distribution in Russia. 

He was a delightful host, but he struck me as being a 
rather vague and unpractical person. The plant we visited was 
one of the links in the vast scheme for the electrification of 
Russia, planned by the great engineer Kryzianovski, which if it 
is carried out, will perhaps in twenty-five years' time supply 
light and power to every city, town and village in Russia. Rail- 
roads, plants and factories will be operated by electricity and 
such a tremendous saving of labor will be effected that no one 
will have to work more than three or four hours a day. Rickov 
explained all this to me with enthusiasm while showing us 
over the plant. 


It was being built close to large peat deposits which were 
to supply the fuel and where machines for cutting and drying 
peat were already installed. The power house which was to 
furnish seven thousand kilowatts daily was nearly finished, 
and as they were not able to get turbines, the constructing 
engineers had utilized two turbines from dismantled battle- 
ships at Kronstadt. A short distance away was a model work- 
men's village with attractive wooden cottages, a large com- 
munity dining hall, a splendid schoolhouse and a recreation 
center. It was a Utopian scheme in miniature. 

Meanwhile Rickov was actually facing a shortage of fuel, 
raw material and labor which had closed practically all the 
factories in Russia except the most essential industries. The 
cumbrous departments of the Supreme Economic Council were 
overburdened with red tape, the cooperatives were unable to 
supply the needs of the people, the transportation system was 
utterly inadequate, but Rickov and his associates with charac- 
teristic Russian idealism were dreaming of a future millennium. 

I found the same attitude of mind on the part of Sereda, 
Commissar of Agriculture, whose pet scheme is the organiza- 
tion of the rural farm communes which so far have not proved 
a success. The wonderful propaganda and educational work 
of the Commissariat is overbalanced by the fact that they lack 
the practical arguments, seeds, agricultural implements, and 
farm machinery to convert the peasants to Communist methods 
and to stimulate agricultural production. 

Schmidt, the Commissar of Labor, is quite an able man 
and a German by birth. He lives in the Kremlin and his 
mother, who was formerly a cook in the palace of one of the 
Russian Grand Duchesses, says that she doesn't know much 
about the Revolution, but she knows that her boy has certainly 
got a fine position. Her favorite amusement is to sit at her 
window on the ground floor of her apartment and hand out 
home-made cakes to passing Red Army men. 

Every Russian citizen between the ages of eighteen and fifty 
for men and eighteen and forty for women, must be a worker 
and must register through the work exchange of the Com- 
missariat of Labor which acts in cooperation with the Trades 


Unions. Efficiency of industrial labor has been tremendously 
decreased owing to living conditions, conscriptions for the 
army, exodus of skilled workers to the country, where they 
obtain better food and pay, and the influx of unskilled peasant 
workers who have no means of cultivating their land. Many 
of the best factory workers are Communists and are excused 
to do propaganda work. 

In the Commissariats there is much sabotage, much pad- 
ding of payrolls and much inefficiency, largely due to the 
complicated bureaucratic system, and there is an enormous 
amount of official corruption, an inheritance from the old 
regime. One of my friends at the Foreign Office was the 
head of the financial section. He was a middle-aged man 
with a taste for old porcelain and furniture. One day when I 
was in his office to collect a draft sent me by radio from the 
office of the Associated Press at Copenhagen, he showed me 
all his treasures, comprising two beautiful Sevres vases and a 
silver-inlaid musket, which had belonged to Peter the Great. 
The next time I inquired for him I was told he was out, and I 
afterwards discovered that he had been arrested, convicted and 
shot for speculation. 

In several Commissariats, such as that of Posts and Tele- 
graphs and that of Ways and Communications, which handles 
rail and water transportation, the old personnel has remained 
to a large extent. In the former the same employees in the 
Foreign Mail Censorship department who examined all out- 
going letters for the Czar's Okhrana are performing the identi- 
cal service for the Checka. 

One of the most efficient Commissariats is that of Public 
Health, under Dr. Semashko, who is a remarkably capable, 
hard-working man, and he has done wonders with the limited 
means at his disposal. He is tremendously handicapped by 
the shortage of physicians and medical and surgical supplies. 
All physicians are nationalized and the best have been taken 
into the army sanitary service. A feature of the work of the 
Public Health department is its educational campaign. It 
gets out an enormous amount of literature in popular form. 
One of the most amusing of its pamphlets was one written in 


verse, in which it described how disease is spread by vermin. 
A number of disinfecting and deloiising plants have been con- 
structed in Moscow, Petrograd and other cities, and periodical 
"Weeks of Cleanliness" and "Bath Weeks" are held, but sani- 
tary conditions in all Russian cities are bad, owing to the com- 
plete or partial breakdown of plumbing and water supply sys- 
tems, lack of repair material, skilled workmen and the utter 
disregard by the majority of the people of the observance of 
ordinary rules of cleanliness or decency. I doubt if they are 
much worse in this respect than they were in the old days. 

The most interesting of all the Commissariats to me was 
the Commissariat of Education, which is indirectly one of the 
most important political factors in Russia at the present time. 
It has done more than anything else to keep up the morale of 
the people during a period of intolerable suffering and priva- 
tion and it is teaching the people of Russia to think for them- 
selves. Until its work is accomplished there can never be any 
form of genuine popular government in Russia. 

Lunacharsky, Commissar of Education, is an extremely 
cultivated man, who speaks nearly all European languages 
fluently. Although a Communist by training he is far more of 
a Maximalist by instinct, and an artist and individualist to his 
finger tips. When I saw him in his apartment in the Kremlin, 
in a seventeenth century palace, alluringly christened the "Pal- 
ace of Little Pleasures," and formerly the residence of the 
commander of the Kremlin, he talked to me chiefly of the 
Prolet-cult, his great scheme for making world culture access- 
ible to the masses of the people, and little of the general plan 
of education. He was enthusiastic about the formation of 
dramatic clubs for workmen and sent me to the director of 
this department, through whom I later saw some very interest- 
ing performances of this character. Lunacharsky told me 
that he believed the best of the world's dramas and literature 
should be placed within the reach of the people, without any 
intermediate preparatory stage, trusting to what he is con- 
vinced is their own unerring and uncorrupted aesthetic sense. 
In some cases his theories have worked out with startling 
results, though not always in the way he intended. For 


example, he had an idea that the peasants would enjoy the 
ballet, and sent the ballet from the Grand Opera House in 
Moscow to make a provincial tour in small towns where 
nothing of the sort had ever been seen before. Instead of 
being entranced by the beauty and color of the thing, the 
peasants were profoundly shocked by the display of the bare 
arms and legs of the coryphees and left the performances 
before they were over, thoroughly disgusted. 

While I was talking to Lunacharsky, his two children, a 
boy and girl about nine and twelve years old, respectively, came 
in, asking permission to go to a performance at the children's 
theater. I found that they did not live in one of the many 
children's homes, but with their parents, and attended day 
school like any other children in capitalist countries. Con- 
trary to general opinion, the placing of children in homes or 
other institutions is not compulsory in Russia, but it is easier 
for the average parents who are compelled to work all day and 
who find it difficult to take proper care of their children and 
to go through the red tape necessary to collect the rations and 
clothing given out on cards. The public school system in Rus- 
sia is magnificent in theory; according to the general plan of 
education every Russian citizen will eventually be able to ob- 
tain an education absolutely free, under a uniform school sys- 
tem, extending from the kindergarten grade to the most highly 
specialized technical or professional training. 

At present it is hampered by material difficulties. I knew 
of many children who were not able to go to school at all, 
owing to the fact that they had no shoes or clothing; others 
who lived in districts where the schools were closed on account 
of disrepair or lack of fuel for heating purposes. Hundreds 
of them spent their days in the streets, speculating or stealing, 
while their parents were at work, and the amount of juvenile 
immorality among children of this class was appalling. Thou- 
sands more lived in the children's homes, which, as a whole, 
were very well run and exceedingly interesting. They were 
usually in the former residences of rich bourgeois and were 
organized on the cottage plan, not more than twenty children 
to a house. They were of both sexes, ranging in age from 


three to sixteen, in order to give the atmosphere of normal 
family life. The boys and girls slept in separate rooms, the 
little ones being taken care of by the larger ones, who did most 
of the manual work. The older children went to school, the 
little ones being taught at home, often in a thoroughly modern 
manner, by teachers trained in the Montessori system. Great 
attention was given to developing originality and initiative, 
and of course the authorities saw to it that they received thor- 
ough grounding in the principles of Communism. If the 
Soviet Government remains in power for some years it will be 
very interesting to see what hold the Communistic idea gets on 
the younger generation, starting out without any preconceived 
ideas or prejudices. In one of the homes I saw a Httle girl 
about five years old playing with a doll. 

"What a pretty dolly," I said. "Is she yours?" 

"Oh, no," was the quick reply, "she isn't my dolly, she's 
our dolly." 

In another home I saw an impromptu performance of one 
of the fables of Krelov, the Russian La Fontaine, by tots 
between four and six. Each child wore a crudely painted 
muslin mask representing one of the animal characters. Not 
one forgot or stumbled over a line, and the way they entered 
into the spirit of the thing was remarkable. The wolf was 
ill-natured and snarling, the bear delightfully clumsy, the little 
fox had just the right mixture of servility and cunning, and 
the lamb was appropriately meek and terrified in such strange 

In the suburbs I saw a well run home for tubercular chil- 
dren equipped in a thoroughly up-to-date manner, a home for 
orthopedic cases and a sanatorium for children physically under 
par, where they received particularly nourishing food and spent 
part of each day during the Summer lying naked in the sun. 
There was also a fascinating school in Moscow for children 
who showed unusual aptitude for music, drawing or dancing. 
Dancing was taught by the Dalcroz method and some of the 
little pupils gave really remarkable exhibitions of interpreta- 
tive dancing. I also saw a splendid home for defective chil- 
dren. The food in these institutions and in the primary and 


secondary schools, where every registered pupil gets one hot 
meal a day, is far above the average of that obtained in adult 
dining-rooms, though it is not sufficient by any means. It 
varies greatly, depending upon the supplies on hand in the 
Moscow Food Administration and the honesty of the indi- 
vidual superintendent. One day I dropped in unannounced 
at two dining-rooms not far apart, where the rations for the 
day should have been similar. At one the children had a good 
thick soup, roast pork with kasha, and a large piece of black 
bread; at the other they had a soup like warm dishwater, a 
small portion of kasha, and nothing more. 

Registration in the University of Moscow was enormous, 
amounting to about five thousand pupils, but the attendance 
was relatively very small owing to the fact that the buildings 
could not be properly heated. I found many of the old pro- 
fessors in charge of the courses, and they fared tolerably well 
as they obtained the academic payok, a food ration superior to 
the average. They were terribly handicapped in many cases by 
the lack of textbooks and laboratory material. The students 
were, as a rule, not actively interested in politics, in distinct 
contrast to the old days, and if they had any political opinions 
at all they were inclined to be reactionary rather than otherwise. 

The working schools which are run in connection with the 
public school system, where the children receive practical voca- 
tional and technical training, are very interesting. I saw some 
of the concrete results of this training at an exhibition at the 
Strogonov Institute, where there were some excellent samples 
of textile designing and weaving, pottery, woodcuts, litho- 
graphs, toys, furniture and mechanical models made by boys 
and girls from twelve to sixteen, 

I have already spoken of the classes for adult illiterates in 
the Red Army. These have been extended to the civilian popu- 
lation and are part of the Communist propaganda, many party 
workers volunteering as teachers in clubs or factories. 

Many of the teachers in Soviet schools and institutions 
are non-Communists. Numbers of them have been engaged 
in educational work for many years. While bitterly opposed 
to the Soviet Government on principle, they are absorbed in 


their work and very happy in being able, even with the tremen- 
dous material difficulties existing at the present time, to carry 
out their theories and ideas, for in all matters connected with 
art, science or education the Soviet Government is remarkably, 
often exaggeratedly, liberal. It is always willing to try new 
methods; many of those in practical operation at the present 
time were thought out by idealists many years ago under the 
Czar's regime and cherished in secret. Altogether, the new 
system of education in Russia is admirable in theory. "But," 
the average foreigner will ask, "to what extent are the Bol- 
sheviks putting it into practice ?" Roughly speaking, I should 
say that in the parts of Russia where reasonably normal con- 
ditions exist, possibly forty per cent, of the children are re- 
ceiving an education. In Moscow and Petrograd the percent- 
age is much higher, in the country districts very much lower 
as a rule. 


One of the facts that struck me most forcibly in Moscow- 
was that the churches were invariably packed to the doors at 
the services. I often dropped in at vespers or high mass on 
Sunday at churches in various parts of the city, and there was 
always an enormous congregation. It occurred to me that it 
would be extremely interesting to find out about the position 
of the church from other than government officials. So, having 
learned from some of my Russian friends that the Patriarch 
Tikhon was living in Moscow under house arrest in the palace 
of the former Metropolitan Bishop, I went to call on him, ac- 
companied by Francis McCullagh. 

The Metropolitan's palace, which is tucked away behind 
one of the boulevards, was hard to find, but we managed to 
locate it by means of a street map, rang the bell and were 
ushered in by an ancient flunkey in faded dark blue knicker- 
bockers and coat adorned with gold lace, and wearing worn- 
out buckled slippers, to the office of a deacon who was acting 
as his secretary. At first the latter was not at all inclined to 
even take in our names to the Patriarch, but when he found 
that Mr. McCullagh was a Catholic, and was leaving shortly 
for England, he consented to ask him if he would receive us. 
The Patriarch, even in the old days, was known as a man 
of exceedingly liberal views, and one of his dreams has always 
been a federation of the three great Christian denominations — 
Orthodox, Anglican and Catholic churches. He believes that 
only by some such cooperation can Christianity be saved and 
the present wave of social unrest be stayed in Europe and 

After a short absence the deacon returned to say that the 
Patriarch would see us, and we were shown upstairs to the 



Metropolitan's audience chamber, a once beautiful room with 
walls of pale blue brocade adorned with portraits of former 
Bishops and church dignitaries, with rococo gilt furniture up- 
holstered in the same delicate shade, but a bit down at the heel 
like the old retainer and everything else in the house. There 
was evidently not enough coal to heat the building, for we 
could see our breaths as we sat on a sofa at the end of a long 
gilt table with a superb inlaid top and waited for the Patriarch. 

In a few minutes the ancient retainer, who seemed to con- 
stitute the Patriarch's sole retinue, flung open the door at the 
end of the room with a low bow, and Tikhon came in, looking 
every inch a prince of the church and showing no ill effects 
from his confinement. He was dressed in a long cassock of 
rich black silk. Around his neck was a jeweled chain terminat- 
ing in a superb cross, on his index finger was his ring, which 
Mr. McCullagh kissed devoutly. He wore on his head the 
traditional headdress of the Greek church, a close-fitting 
helmet-like cap of white velvet beautifully embroidered in 
seed pearls, with long rounded tabs that fell on either side of 
his full grey beard, and surmounted by a gold cross studded 
with diamonds and rubies. Such ceremony seemed rather 
futile under actual conditions, but I could not help admiring 
the old gentleman's fine spirit and his insistence on keeping up 
the semblance of pomp and circumstance. 

He greeted us in Russian, apologizing at the same time 
for the fact that he had forgotten most of his French, and was 
much relieved when he found we understood the Russian 

**I also once spoke a little English," he added, "but that 
was many years ago when I was Bishop of Alaska, and I 
remember very well visiting Minneapolis when it was a small 
town. I suppose it is a great city now." 

We asked him to give us an idea of the position of the 
Orthodox Church and its relation to the Soviet Government. 
He told us that while he was a constitutional Monarchist, and 
on those as well as on ecclesiastical grounds, bitterly opposed to 
Bolshevism, he believed that the Bolsheviks had done one good 
thing for the Russian church, by bringing about the separation 


of church and state. Formerly the priest was merely a gov- 
ernment functionary, working as such, generally without any 
sense of particular fitness for his vocation. Sons of priests 
inherited the right to go to seminaries and become candidates 
for the priesthood. Most of them were lazy, inefficient; they 
were often immoral and great drunkards. Discipline of the 
clergy by the church itself was very difficult if a priest hap- 
pened, as was often the case, to have the protection and patron- 
age of one of the great nobles. The people were compelled to 
support the priest, and his parish visits were made mainly with 
the object of collecting his tithes in kind and money. Now, 
the people, when they supported their priest, did so voluntarily 
and at great personal sacrifice to themselves. He had to give 
them of his best, and be a very superior sort of man at that in 
order to keep his parish. 

The Soviet Government allowed in each parish as many 
priests and churches as the parishioners were willing to sup- 
port, and had left all the churches in possession of their ikons, 
robes and sacramental vessels, many of which were of great 
beauty and represented untold millions in value, although it 
had dispossessed the church of all its lands and revenues. 
The church treasures Vvcre technically the property of the state, 
but were held in trust for it by the priest. Duplicate lists of 
the contents of every church were made by a commissar acting 
for the Soviet Government, one copy being retained by the 
priest. Once a year the list was checked over by the priest 
and commissar to see that nothing was missing. A number 
of priests had been arrested for counter-revolutionary activi- 
ties and as far as he had been able to compile a list, which was 
difficult owing to poor facilities for communications, three 
hundred and twenty-two bishops and priests had been executed 
since the beginning of the Revolution. 

At the moment the Patriarch believed that the influence of 
the church on the lives of the people was stronger than it had 
ever been in all its history, but he was dubious as to its future 
if the Communist dictatorship kept up too long. In the first 
place, he said, it was impossible to hold convocations of the 
clergy for the purpose of ordaining priests or bishops to take 


the places of those who died or were arrested or executed, as 
priests and ecclesiastical dignitaries were not permitted to 
travel. Secondly, all the seminaries and theological schools 
had been closed and there would be no new generation of 
priests to take the place of the others. Then the church was 
obliged to give up all its parish schools and the Soviet admin- 
istration was conducting a strong anti-religious propaganda 
among the school children. Parents, however, could instruct 
their children in religion and send them to the priests for indi- 
vidual teaching. 

As regarded his own part in the movement against Bol- 
shevism, I gathered that he was content for the time at least 
to rest on his laurels. He had, about a year before, gotten 
out an encyclical against Bolshevism, but he realized, like the 
intellectuals, that the time for active propaganda was not ripe, 
and that any conspirative action would not only be quite use- 
less, but would remove from the people one of their great 
sources of strength and consolation. My estimate of him was 
that he was absolutely sincere, with a fine conception of the 
dignity of his office and his mission, but a man of limited in- 
tellectual capacity and rather passive in character. He spoke 
to us with the enthusiasm of an idealistic dreamer about the 
union of the churches. As to his treatment by the Soviet 
authorities he said that he had nothing of which he could com- 
plain, and he was rather inclined to be reserved about anything 
touching on political matters. 

My own observations bore out his assertions, though I be- 
lieve that he rather underestimated the strength of the religious 
movement in Russia at the present time. In the provinces as 
well as in Moscow the churches were always crowded, and I 
talked to a number of provincial priests, who told me that they 
had never lived so well on tithes as they were then living on the 
voluntary contributions of their parishioners. In the Church 
of St. Horiton, just across the way from my guest house, sev- 
eral artists from the Moscow Grand Opera sang in the choir. 
I was often astonished at the piles of five hundred and thou- 
sand-rouble notes heaped on the plate during the offertory. 
Sometimes, standing during the long sen-^ices, I was struck by 


the rapt devotion on the faces of the people around me, many 
of whom were Red Armists in uniform. In the children's 
homes run by the Soviet Government I frequently noticed 
ikons, or sacred images, tied to the heads of the beds. In the 
churches, in spite of the high price of kerosene and the fact 
that many homes in Moscow were actually in darkness on ac- 
count of the inability of families to purchase fuel for lamps, 
I saw hundreds of votive candles, and at all hours of the day 
there were always scores of devout worshipers with votive 
offerings before the shrine of the Virgin of Iberia at the en- 
trance to the Red Square, in full view of the often quoted sign 
on the Moscow municipal building, just across the way, that 
"Rehgion Is Opium to the People." 

I was much interested in the effect produced by the open- 
ing of the "mostchi," or bodies of the saints, which was under- 
taken by the Soviet Government some two years ago to prove 
to the people that their sacred relics were dummies of old 
clothes, papier-mache, cotton-wool and straw. It was given 
the widest possible publicity by pamphlets, newspaper articles 
and motion pictures, but on the whole produced very little 
effect. The great mass of the people never knew anything 
about it, owing to the fact that they could not read, and movies 
and propaganda workers could not reach the country districts. 
Some were bitterly disillusioned and turned against the church, 
others were simply indifferent, and many devout persons be- 
lieved with touching naivete, as one old peasant said to me, 
"Barischna, our holy saints disappeared to heaven and substi- 
tuted rags and straw for their relics when they found that 
their tombs were to be desecrated by nonbelievers. It was a 
great miracle." 

I once had an opportunity of seeing how the dispossessed 
nuns who still adhere to their vows are living at the present 
time, when I accompanied young Madame Brusilov to the con- 
vent of Novo Dievotche on the outskirts of Moscow, which was 
once a fashionable boarding-school, and where she was her- 
self a pupil. A great many of the convents and monasteries 
have been taken over by the government as internment camps, 
but there are certain ones in Moscow and throughout the prov- 


inces where the monks and nuns are allowed to remain un- 
disturbed in part of their old quarters, the remainder being 
occupied by working people. This was the case with the 
nuns at Novo Dievotche. They were permitted to live in one 
of the houses inside the huge red wall surrounding the convent 
enclosure, which shelters five churches, a tall bell tower, and 
a number of buildings formerly used by the nuns, lay sisters, 
and boarding pupils. 

The mother superior, about twenty nuns and as many lay 
sisters still occupied the building formerly reserved for the lay 
sisters only. I had tea with one of the nuns in her little room, 
which was spotlessly clean. She gave us delicious tea, made 
on a beautiful old brass samovar, and apologized for not being 
able to offer us anything but her scanty supply of black bread, 
which we refused to eat, for we had brought our own bread, 
and sugar, which we shared with her, for she had none. She 
was a sweet-faced, gentle-voiced woman, utterly resigned to 
her fate, utterly uncomprehending of the great movement that 
had swept away her world, and she lived on a bit bewildered 
by all the changes, clinging instinctively to the shelter of the 
familiar walls, her long black robe and medieval headdress. 
She told me that the nuns were given their quarters free by the 
Soviet Government, that they were quite unmolested and had 
excellent relations with the working people who occupied the 
rest of the convent buildings, but that they received no food, 
fuel or clothing rations, and were debarred from work in all 
government offices or institutions. She particularly regretted 
being cut off from work among the children whom she loved. 
The nuns supported themselves, she said, by going out for the 
day as domestic servants or seamstresses, and doing fine needle- 
work, making underclothes and summer dresses for the wives 
of the rich commissars. Their former pupils brought them 
donations of money and food and thus they managed to get 
along, living from hand to mouth. 

In the cathedral of the convent I found all the treasures, 
including the famous, reputedly miraculous image of the Vir- 
gin of Smolensk, absolutely intact, altliough they represented 
many thousands of dollars in value. The Virgin of Smolensk 


is a typical Byzantine madonna of the sixteenth century, and 
she is fairly engulfed in an enormous headdress of gold wire 
strung with pearls in an intricate lace pattern, studded with 
huge emeralds, diamonds, rubies and other precious stones. In 
the same church are other ikons of almost equal value, and over 
the tombs of many of the Czaritzas, including the wife and 
two sisters of Peter the Great, are still hung their personal 
ikons, which they used during their lives, several of them ex- 
quisitely painted and set in frames studded with precious stones 
or enriched with the wonderful old Russian enamels. I have 
often heard it said that many of the stones in the ikons are 
imitation, having been replaced years ago by unscrupulous 
priests. How true this is I do not know ; perhaps the Bolsheviks 
do ; but I saw many superb vessels which were evidently of real 
silver or gold and which had not been touched. 

Among the ecclesiastics in general in Moscow I found 
many interesting tendencies, for there is now, as always, a 
great latitude of opinion among the higher clergy. Bishop 
Turkestanov, one of the most eloquent preachers in the Ortho- 
dox Church, was very fearless in his upholding of the old 
order and his denunciation of the existing regime. Bishop 
Vamava, an equally well known prince of the church, had de- 
clared himself to be a Christian Communist and it was whis- 
pered by many people that he was an agent of the much dread- 
ed Checka. An Archimandrite whom I met. Father Arsene 
by name, consoled himself with metaphysical speculations and 
the writing of erotic verse, which he read to me with great 
gusto. Other priests were deeply interested in theosophy and 
spiritualism, which, in Russia, as in other war-ridden coun- 
tries, has taken a great hold on the popular imagination. 

The Catholic church is also quite strong in Russia. Acting 
on instructions from Rome, the Catholic clergy have taken no 
part in any political activities or preached against Bolshevism, 
and they are allowed to work undisturbed. In Minsk, Vitebsk 
and in Western Russia I found the Uniats, who are very close 
to the Catholic church, were steadily but quietly enlarging their 
membership. There were three Catholic churches in Moscow, 
all Polish, but in spite of this disadvantage, during the days of 


the Polish offensive they managed to keep open and escape 
any suspicion of political activity. I knev^ the Polish priest 
of the largest church, in the Mali Lubianka within a stone's 
throw of the prison of the Checka, very well. He was a delight- 
ful man, a hopeless invalid, and a great philosopher. As a 
Pole he deplored the Polish offensive as a source of great in- 
ternal danger to Poland through the embarking on a militaristic 
policy, which he believed would sooner or later lead to revo- 
lution, and as the cause of a reinforcement of Bolshevik morale 
by the creation of intense national feeling. There was also a 
small Russian Catholic group in Moscow in which I was much 
interested. It was headed by Father Vladimir, one of the 
Abrikosovs who were among the fabulously rich merchants of 
old Russia. His followers, several hundred in number, were 
known as the Abrikosi, and went back in their observances to 
the early days of the Catholic church, following the liturgy of 
the Christian martyrs and practicing an extreme asceticism. 

Starting from Galicia, in the days of Petlura, the Catholic 
church began an active propaganda in the Ukraine which was 
productive of great results and has not entirely ceased at the 
present time. That the Bolsheviks still fear this propaganda 
was shown by the publication last summer of documents 
alleged to have been discovered in the Ukraine by agents of 
the Extraordinary Commission, disclosing the existence of a 
secret agreement between the Pope and Petlura. The story 
was as follows : 

During the war the Vatican was said to have loaned con- 
siderable sums of money to the Italian Government, which the 
latter was unable to pay at its close, turning over instead to 
His Holiness a large quantity of leftover munitions. Count 
Tuskievitch, then emissary of Petlura to Rome, offered to 
take them off the Pope's hands. He agreed, stipulating for 
compensation to the Catholic church for losses sustained in 
the Ukraine during the Civil War, the creation of an Ukrainian 
cardinalate and the right to conduct Catholic propaganda, in 
addition to a cash sum. Part payment was made, and some 
munitions were delivered to Petlura, but the contract was never 


fulfilled in its entirety owing to the fact that Petlura was 
defeated and driven out into Poland. 

Next to the Catholics, the Baptists have made more prog- 
ress than any other sect in Russia during the past few years. 
They are very strong in the neighborhood of Saratov and gen- 
erally in Southeastern Russia, and there are still numbers of 
Old Believers among the Don Cossacks. There are also evan- 
gelistic movements in Moscow and Petrograd and other parts 
of the country, but these are regarded as counter-revolutionary. 
A Christian brotherhood organized in Petrograd by a former 
professor whose name I do not recall at the moment, was dis- 
solved by the Checka last summer, its leader and a number of 
members put into jail, and I myself was recently in prison 
with members of the Russian branch of the Salvation Army. 

Added to all these denominational movements there is the 
inexorable tie of habit and tradition which binds the great mass 
of the peasants to their religion, the Russian temperament, 
idealistic and mystical, which holds the better educated in the 
spell of various fanatical movements, the old love of the super- 
natural which is as strong in human nature as ever. The peas- 
ants have clung to many of their ancient superstitions and leg- 
ends, particularly the one about the coming of the Anti-Christ, 
and many of them believe that he is Trotzki. At times all 
Moscow is vibrating with rumors of mysterious signs and por- 
tents seen in the heavens. Last August the people were all 
agog over a flaming crown said to have rested over the church 
on the Pokrovka, where the Empress Elizabeth was married. 
They declared that it was a sign that the monarchy would be 
miraculously restored. 

Then there is the great new religion of Communism, for 
to its sincere and devoted followers it is a religion for which 
they are just as willing to sacrifice themselves and their neigh- 
bors as the Raskolniki in the days of Peter the Great, who im- 
molated themselves and their families in great auto da fes, 
hundreds at a time, the willing sacrificed with the unwilling 
victims. The propaganda of Communism as a faith has its 
appeal to the young and imaginative, as well as to the more 
mature idealists and the fanatics of Marxism. There are many 


people who take a fierce delight in the renunciation of their 
individual freedom for the collective good, and there are many 
features of the Communistic doctrine which, when studied 
from this angle, have a tremendous appeal. 

These dreamers of a new social order based on the religion 
of Marxism are inevitably doomed, in my opinion, to failure, 
for economic and political reasons as well as from the fact that 
the vast majority of members of their own party are not actu- 
ated by any such altruistic motives. They are having great 
success, however, in the organization of the Communist youth, 
boys and girls of the working classes, who do not see the prac- 
tical failure of Communism, who are at the age which hopes 
and believes all things. It will be interesting to see what fruit 
the purely spiritual and intellectual side of Communism pro- 
duces in the next generation. 


At about this time I began to make the acquaintance of 
members of some of the opposition poHtical parties, among 
which were the Mensheviks and the Anarchists. Both of these 
groups had a semi-legal status, held meetings and had their 
headquarters, the former having a club on the Miasnitskaya, 
the latter on the Tverskaya. At the Mensheviks' club I met 
both the leaders, Martov and Abramovitz, who have now taken 
refuge in Germany. They, being like the Bolsheviki, Social 
Democrats, were anxious to cooperate with the Soviet Govern- 
ment, but differed radically from the Communists on the 
question of the status of the trades unions, and were opposed 
to Trotzki's policy of the militarization of labor. I had great 
trouble in hunting them out, for they were under suspicion 
even at that time, and my visit to the club, together with those 
to Tchertkov and the Anarchists, were known and noted 
against me though I was not conscious of it at the time. 

The Anarchists held open meetings every Sunday, and 
were allowed to preach their doctrines undisturbed, though to 
tell the truth, at their meetings there was at least one Checkist 
to every Anarchist or impartial listener, and they held debates 
with corresponding prudence and due realization of this fact. 
The Anarchists were divided into two groups, the Communist 
Anarchists, who believed that Communism was a necessary 
stage in the evolution of anarchism, and those who wished at 
once to abolish all government. Numbers of them had already 
been arrested, and during my own term of imprisonment a 
general roundup of all Anarchists was made by the govern- 
ment. The Anarchists were a rather faddy lot, one of their 
pet schemes being the launching of a new universal language 
which they claimed to be far superior to Esperanto, and in 
which letters were replaced by numbers. 



They also ran a restaurant on the Tverskaya, open to the 
public, where a very good meal could be had for thirty-five 
roubles, astonishingly cheap for Moscow. Undoubtedly many 
of their supplies were purloined from Soviet stores, for they 
claimed the right to rob the government, whose authority they 
did not recognize. 

It was at about this time that large numbers of deported 
American Anarchists began to arrive in Russia. They were 
not by any means welcome visitors. Many of them were to 
all intents and purposes Americans, having left Russia as small 
children, and did not speak a word of the language. Some of 
them had left their families behind in the United States, others 
found absolutely no trace of their relatives whom they had left 
in Russia many years before; nearly all were very poor, and 
found great difficulty in obtaining work. They soon became 
bitterly disillusioned about the Soviet Government, and the 
Russians themselves were not unnaturally indignant at having 
a lot of what they were pleased to term foreigners, radically 
disagreeing from them politically, dumped down in their midst. 
Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkmann, who arrived at the 
same time, and who commanded almost universal respect on 
account of their personal character and intellectual attainments, 
established a sort of unofficial employment bureau for these 
poor people and formed as a nucleus to hold them together a 
society called "The Russian Friends of American Freedom." 
They had interviews with Lenin on the subject, and hoped to 
be able to form a powerful organization of Russians with ties 
connecting them with America to help promote revolutionary 
doctrine in the United States, but as it was sponsored chiefly 
by Anarchists Lenin did not look on it with any great degree 
of favor and the project was, I believe, eventually dropped. 

I saw a great deal of Emma Goldman and Berkmann dur- 
ing their stay in Moscow. Berkmann lived at my guest house 
and for several weeks had the room next to mine. He is a 
quiet little man with a big domed forehead brought more into 
prominence by his baldness, with kindly, somewhat near-sight- 
ed gray-green eyes, rather owlish in expression behind his huge 
horn-rimmed spectacles. Long imprisonment and much 


thought have given his anarchism a rather speculative, theoret- 
ical character, and he is by nature a gentle, exceedingly sweet- 
tempered person. Knowing him as I do I cannot imagine him 
trying to blow up Mr. Frick or anyone else with bombs. I 
think the two subjects on which he feels most strongly are the 
prison system in general as a form of punishment, and mili- 
tarism. For these reasons, whatever he might see of good in 
the Soviet Government was overbalanced by his horror of the 
Checka and the Red Army. He told me many stories of the 
men he had seen turned into enemies of the human race by im- 
prisonment, and he regarded death as a much more humane 
form of punishment. He admitted that until society reached 
an ideally altruistic state it would be perhaps necessary to keep 
some individuals under restraint in reformatory colonies, or 
under treatment for mental abnormalities not clearly under- 
stood at present, and of which he believed much more ex- 
haustive study should be made. He also felt that in an an- 
archistic state where individualism was given full rein, and 
people were directly interdependent, this sense of social respon- 
sibility would develop much more rapidly than is possible 
under any present system of government. We had long 
conversations on these subjects, and he told me many stories 
of his life in the Atlanta penitentiary. In all he has spent 
twenty-five years in prison, but it has not destroyed his 
interest in life or influenced his point of view. In his judg- 
ments of individuals he is exceedingly charitable, though 
sweeping in his condemnation of man-made systems. We also 
had long chats about literature, art and music, in which he has 
very good taste and a fine appreciative faculty. Long years of 
imprisonment have considerably undermined his health, and 
he found Moscow fare, black bread and kasha, very trying. 

Finally, his digestive troubles culminated in a very severe 
attack of intestinal disorder. I helped Emma Goldman heat 
and prepare special dishes for him on my little kerosene stove, 
and he found my hot water bottle very useful. I often won- 
dered what my conventional American friends would think if 
they could see me sitting by the hour in Berkmann's bedroom 
administering medicines and changing hot water bottles. If 


I had thought about him at home at all I had always pictured 
him as a wild man with a bomb in one hand and equally ex- 
plosive literature in the other. As a matter of fact I found 
him one of the gentlest, most courteous and kindliest individ- 
uals it has ever been my pleasure to meet. 

I liked Emma, too. Honesty, good nature and a delight- 
fully refreshing sense of humor are her salient characteristics, 
mixed with a keen intelligence, considerable shrewdness and 
great executive ability. The feeling of being a round peg 
in a square hole wore on her energetic temperament. She 
hated her enforced idleness, but she was absolutely unwilling 
to go into any sort of work where she would be directly or in- 
directly supporting Communist policies. She spoke Russian 
very poorly and she was desperately and humanly homesick for 
America. I do not believe for one instant that Emma is any 
the less a sincere anarchist for her experience in Russia, but 
I believe that she is a much better American. I am not sure 
even that she is in her heart of hearts not convinced that it is 
not such a simple thing to bring about a social revolution and 
that it would not be well to make haste slowly in the United 
States. I greatly enjoyed listening to her apt criticisms of 
leading personages, whose weak spots she picked out unerr- 
ingly, and her efficient scorn of the loose business methods and 
administrative incapacity of the Russians. 

After oscillating restlessly between Moscow and Petrograd 
for some time, "looking over the field," as Emma expressed 
it, she and Berkmann finally found a job into which they could 
enter whole-heartedly — collecting material for a historical mu- 
seum of the revolution. They were given a private car, with 
a Red Soldier as an attendant, they stocked it well with pro- 
visions, Emma, who is an excellent cook and housekeeper, 
superintending the stocking up; and they started off for the 
Ukraine on an extended tour, on part of which they were ac- 
companied by an American correspondent, Henry Alsberg, 
who was then writing for the London Daily Herald and col- 
lecting material for a series of articles in an American weekly. 
It was a source of wonder to us that Alsberg was able to take 
the trip, for the Ukraine was in a very unsettled state at that 


time, as indeed it is still, the Polish offensive was on, and no 
other foreign correspondents were permitted to travel in that 
part of Russia. The Foreign Office insisted that he had gone 
without permission, the Checka outwardly raged and swore 
that Alsberg had been detained in Kharkov, but as a matter of 
fact this was camouflage to appease the other correspondents, 
who did not have Alsberg's pull. He traveled over a large part 
of the Ukraine tranquilly and quite unmolested, returning to 
Moscow in his own good time many weeks later. 

There was another class of individuals, many of whom 
would be ranked as radicals at home, but who were, for the 
most part, beginning to turn against the Soviet Government — 
the Jews. 

That the Jews helped to make the Russian Revolution is a 
fact too well known to need comment; that they reaped great 
immediate advantages from it is undoubtedly true ; that many 
of the men who are leading forces in the political and economic 
life of Soviet Russia are Jews is unquestionable, and these facts 
have given rise to the general impression outside of Russia 
that Bolshevism is a movement sponsored by the great mass 
of the Jewish population. As a matter of fact the great masses 
of the Jewish population have gotten less out of the Revolu- 
tion than any other race or class ; they have been crushed, so 
to speak, between the upper and nether millstones of revolution 
and reaction. The majority of them, barring the fact that 
they dread counter-revolution on account of the inevitable 
pogroms which would accompany it, would be glad to see the 
overthrow of the Communist dictatorship in Russia. 

The immediate result of the Revolution had been to re- 
move the many disabilities of the Jews. For the first time in 
history the Russian Jew was a free citizen with all rights and 
privileges. The Revolution also at first brought many mate- 
rial advantages to the Jews. In the general demoralization 
and disintegration of the bourgeoisie the old official class was 
dispossessed and scattered. Many were executed, others joined 
the counter-revolutionary armies or escaped while there was 
yet a chance beyond the frontier. Many of those who were left 
refused to work for the new government or practiced sabotage. 


Among the class-conscious Russian proletariat which had 
taken part in the revolutionary movement there were few men 
with the education or training to occupy executive or admin- 
istrative positions. The Jews, as a race, in spite of their many 
handicaps, were better fitted for such positions than their Rus- 
sian co-revolutionists. Nearly all of them were from the mer- 
chant or small trader class, and had a fairly good education. 
The percentage of literacy was much higher among them than 
among Gentiles of the corresponding class. They had never 
owned land, and in the distribution of land among the peasants 
they had no share. They were reaping their harvest from the 
revolution in clerkships and administrative and executive 

As far as Petrograd, Moscow and the large cities were 
concerned, they fared well. Thousands of them were taken 
into the many departments of the Commissariats, primarily 
because of their fitness for such positions. In the provinces 
this was also true to a certain extent, but as the Soviet machin- 
ery there was not so complicated and did not require such a 
large number of paid workmen the majority were left without 
employment. The Red Army absorbed some of them, largely 
in its sanitary service, for the Jews as a race do not take 
more kindly to military service in Russia than in any other 

But many, in the sections where there was a large Jewish 
population, were left without resources or employment. They 
were not trained as industrial workers — even if they had been 
the constantly decreasing factory production owing to the 
economic ruin produced by the Great War, the Civil War and 
the blockade gave them few opportunities in this field; they 
were town dwellers, and had not profited from the distribution 
of the land. 

At first they did not feel their position. True, their little 
shops were closed, their supplies requisitioned, but long years 
of persecution had taught them how to evade the law, conceal 
their goods and practice illicit trade. They did a flourishing 
underground business, practiced contraband and smuggling 
very successfully, and lived well for a time. Then as the cen- 


tral government became better organized, decrees against spec- 
ulation were more rigidly enforced, numbers of the Jews were 
arrested and severely punished, in many cases getting the 
death penalty. Others became frightened, gave up their illicit 
occupations, or exhausted their reserve supplies, and then be- 
gan a period of misery and privation for the provincial Jewish 
population. Many were over age, entitled to receive workers' 
pensions, but this branch of the Soviet Government has never 
been well organized and the destitution among old people all 
over Russia is very great. Others, as I said before, were un- 
able to find employment in their provincial towns and drifted 
involuntarily into the status of nonworkers without the right 
to draw food rations. 

In Moscow I found many Jews occupying important 
political positions, but in positions of greatest authority Jews 
were not in the majority by any means, although they pre- 
ponderated in many of the executive offices of the Soviet 

Among the People's Commissars, seventeen in number, 
there were actually very few Jews, Trotzki being the only one 
among those I met, about whom there can be no question. 
Zinoviev, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Third 
International, is a Jew, and I believe that Jews are well repre- 
sented on the committee. On the other hand, the predominant 
influence in the All- Russian Council of Trades Unions is not 
Jewish by any means. Among the Communist publicists, 
Steklov, editor of the Isvestia, the organ of the Central Execu- 
tive Committee, is not a Jew, while the editorial staff of Eco- 
nomic Life, the fairest paper published in Russia at the present 
time, is composed largely of Jews. 

The Jews registered as members of the Communist party 
and occupying responsible administrative positions were, in 
many instances, rank opportunists. There was a far greater 
proportion of sincere Communists among the real Russians. 
There were many hundreds of Jews among the "Bez Partini," 
nonparty members, belonging to the class of intellectuals or 
professional men who were content to devote themselves to 
purely educational or executive work, and who were at heart 


violently opposed for the most part to the dictatorship of the 
Communist party. 

In the opposition Socialist parties, such as the Mensheviks, 
Right and Left Social Revolutionaries, and even the Anar- 
chists, I found an ever-increasing number of Jewish members. 
This was especially interesting as regards the Right Social 
Revolutionaries. The Social Revolutionary party is essentially 
a peasants' party, and until a short time ago it had practically 
no Jewish members. At present it has many hundreds. They 
are purposely holding back, refusing to take any prominent 
part in the party councils, because, as one of them who was 
imprisoned with me said, "There is such a prejudice against 
Jews in general in Russia that we feel we would do more 
harm than good by openly occupying important positions in 
the party." 

Among my fellow-prisoners was a woman who had been 
one of the directors of a Jewish Cooperative Artel at Smol- 
ensk, one of a number which have been organized by Jews 
throughout Russia to give work to their co-nationalists. This 
organization was so successfully managed that it executed 
large contracts for the Soviet Government, and although in 
size it was far beyond the limit of fifty individuals prescribed 
for cooperative industrial enterprises, it was left undisturbed 
for some time. Finally, after several unsuccessful attempts 
to nationalize the industry, charges of counter-revolution were 
made against some of its leading members, they were arrested, 
and sent to Moscow. I was also in prison with a number of 
Jewish women arrested for membership in the above-named 
political parties, and with several members of the insurgent 
faction of the Bund, a Socialist organization composed entirely 
of Jewish members, which this year split into two factions, 
the majority refusing to subscribe to the Third International, 
the minority going over to the Communists. 

The only Jewish political organization as such, which is 
preponderantly sympathetic to Bolshevism, is the Poalei Zion, 
a league of industrial and factory workers. The Zionists are 
regarded as rank counter-revolutionaries. At their annual 
convention in Moscow last year the entire body, consisting of 


one hundred and twenty-five delegates, was arrested and put 
in prison for several weeks. 

A significant illustration of the state of the public opinion 
with regard to Jews was shown by the reception given a vaude- 
ville act at the Nikitskaya theater last summer. It was a skit 
in which a Red and a White officer come out on the stage and 
engage in a rough and tumble fight for the possession of the 
throne at the back of the scene. After the Red officer has 
given the Monarchist a good licking, he turns around to take 
his seat on the throne and finds perched on it a little Jew who 
has sneaked in meanwhile and taken his seat there. Jibes, cat- 
calls and inelegant, if forcible, remarks from the audience 
with regard to the Jewish gentleman were allowed to go un- 
challenged by the police authorities. 

There is a Jewish branch of the Commissariat of Nation- 
alities in Moscow where Jewish affairs are handled as those of 
a separate race, just as those of the Tartars, Cossacks, the 
German communities, the Ukrainians and other nationalities 
within the Federative Republic. The attitude of the Soviet 
government is just as hostile to Jewish as to Russian Ortho- 
doxy in matters of religion. 

The facts I have cited above are, I think, sufficient in them- 
selves to justify my belief that Jews as such play no great 
role in the Soviet Government at the present time. That the 
Jews had an important part in bringing about the Revolution 
is undoubtedly true ; that the great masses of the Jewish people 
in Russia have not reaped the advantages they hoped for from 
it is equally true ; and it is also a fact that anti-Semitism, per- 
haps at times unconscious, is directed against the race-con- 
scious Jews by both Jew and Gentile Internationalists. Added 
to this is the universal detestation of the Jews by the peasant 
population, who still do not feel safe from Jewish exploita- 
tion, and attribute all the evils of Bolshevism to the Jews. 
Thus the Jews are getting it going and coming. 

The explanation of their part in the Russian Revolution is 
self-evident. As long as there was a question of doing away 
with Czarist Imperialism they were for Bolshevism, but all 
their inherited instincts and training are against the Soviet 


economic and industrial system, as are their religious instincts 
deeply grounded in the patriarchal or family system. There 
are, as there always have been, iconoclastic spirits among them 
running counter to tradition, others whose racial pride is ap- 
pealed to by the opportunity to exercise widespread political 
power and influence. 

Then there is the trader, or speculative instinct of the Jew, 
which tells him that there is always the chance to profit through 
political or economic crises. Now that they have brought about 
these results the majority of the educated Jews are running 
true to their innate conservatism and to the same iconoclastic 
instinct which has always placed them on the side of the minor- 
ity. They realize that the political unity of the Jewish race 
throughout the Diaspora, as they term the Christian world, is 
not to be maintained by the merging of the race-conscious Jew 
in the Internationalist. These are the forces that are pushing 
many of the intelligent Jews back along the road away from 
Communism. The Jewish proletariat at large has failed to 
gain either material prosperity or spiritual freedom through 
Bolshevism, and will probably remain aloof and passive, hos- 
tile to Communism but fearing counter-revolution in Russia. 


For some months I had lived almost entirely on Soviet ra- 
tions, but I began after a time to feel decidedly undernourished. 
The food at our guest house, while better than that served 
in the average Soviet dining-rooms, which I often attended, 
was not sufificient. At that time it was estimated that the 
average food ration in Moscow contained only approximately 
sixty per cent, of the calories necessary for the human organ- 
ism. Through legal means nobody except those receiving 
commissars, academic and Red Army payok obtained anything 
like the requisite amount of nourishment. So, like everybody 
else who had the means, except a few absolutely honest and 
devoted Communists, I began to patronize the markets and 
the illegal restaurants. Practically everything could be bought 
for a price at the picturesque stalls on the Okhotny Riad, within 
a stone's throw of the Foreign Office, in the Soukharevka or 
the Smolensky market. I supplemented my rations with milk, 
fresh eggs, cream cheese, honey and, later, delicious fruits and 
vegetables, which were very abundant. I always had permis- 
sion to use the kitchen in the guest house where I was living, 
and in addition I had my "primus" supplied with kerosene 
bought illegally for five hundred roubles a quart. I was often 
hostess at informal supper parties and frequently had my Rus- 
sian friends as well as members of the foreign colony to din- 
ner or tea. 

It happened that I needed a saucepan in which to do my 
cooking and so, in order to find out just how the Moscow 
housewife does her shopping through legal channels, I applied 
at the Moscow food administration for a permit to buy it 
through the Soviet stores. Upon presentation of papers prov- 
ing my identity and my right to live in Moscow as a "corre- 



spondent of the bourgeois press," I received an order entitling 
me to purchase a saucepan. This order was countersigned by- 
three officials in the Food Administration, the process taking 
an entire day. 

On the second day I exchanged it for an order permitting 
me to go to the government store where samples were on ex- 
hibition and pick out the particular kind of saucepan I desired. 
I chose it by number, whereupon I received another coupon 
entitling me to purchase it at the government cooperative in 
the district in which I lived. Then I had to ascertain on what 
day saucepans would be on sale. On the morning of that day 
I was obliged to go early and stand in line until the shop was 
opened in order to make sure that all the saucepans would not 
be sold before I arrived. The entire process occupied a large 
part of my time for a whole week, but the saucepan was good 
and cheap, only three roubles. Similar ones sold on the Souk- 
harevka for two thousand five hundred. 

It was a wonderful sight to see the crowds on the Souk- 
harevka, particularly on Sundays. Everything under the sun 
was sold in the wide open space occupying the center of the 
boulevard on both sides of the beautiful Soukharev gate, 
which was built by Peter the Great in memory of one of the 
loyal generals during the revolt of the Streltsi. To the right 
was the general market, to the left the food market. The wares 
were classified in sections, by a sort of unwritten law. At the 
beginning of the market, in long lines along the pavement, 
were the peddlers with small miscellaneous wares. Then came 
the shoemakers with new and second-hand shoes, leather and 
shoemakers' materials. There were always numbers of Red 
soldiers in this section, holding under their coats and offering 
surreptitiously for sale, excellent army shoes purloined from 
the commissary stores. 

A little farther on, in the center, were vendors of house- 
hold linen, blankets, rugs, underwear and miscellaneous cloth- 
ing; to the extreme right the household furnishers with com- 
plete stocks of kitchen utensils in tin, aluminum, copper and 
enamel, china and crockery. Here were also sold workmen's 
tools, most of them stolen from the government tool factories. 


On the left was the furniture section, where people brought in 
huge drays furniture of every description — beds, wardrobes, 
massive sideboards, rugs. Often superb pieces of great value 
were offered for sale, and I saw Oriental rugs worth small for- 
tunes sold for a few thousands. Interspersed among these 
gentry were the antiquarians, disposing of exquisite old porce- 
lains, bronzes and bibelots of all descriptions; then came the 
sections where women's clothing was sold, ball gowns, negli- 
gees, French lingerie, blouses, street costumes, false hair, cos- 
metics, toilet articles, in short, everything imaginable for femi- 
nine adornment. 

Many of the people who did business in the Soukharevka 
were professional traders, but there were others, members of 
aristocratic families, wives and daughters of former generals 
and imperial functionaries, persons belonging to the intellectual 
class, who came there to sell their last possessions in order to 
buy bread. Among them I found many charming people and 
made several close friends. In the very center between rows 
of closed booths stood the vendors of gold and gems, always 
furtive, always on the alert for spies or for an ahlai/a, a raid 
on the market, for while the sale of one's old belongings was 
legalized, traffic of this sort was strictly forbidden. 

There was also considerable mystery about the section 
where wool and cotton goods were sold by the yard. Legally, 
anyone had the right to dispose of three arsheens, an arsheen 
being a little over three-quarters of a yard, but larger quanti- 
ties, frequently purloined from government stores, were con- 
stantly changing hands. Numerous people were arrested, but it 
was a well-known fact that many of the officials of the Moscow 
Checka which conducted the raids could be "fixed" if vou 
knew how. I knew of a case where a man was arrested with 
thirty arsheens of cloth in his possession. He was taken off 
to the Checka. 

"How many arsheens were you offering for sale?" demand- 
ed tiie examining officer. 

"Three," he answered promptly, with a wink at the official. 

*Good," was the reply, "you may have your three arsheens 
bac»^" Thereupon he received his liberty and his three 


arsheens, the remaining twenty-seven resting in the possession 
of the official. 

Everyone was not so lucky, however. In an apartment 
where I was a frequent guest a workman lived with his wife 
and three small children. They had great difficulty in making 
both ends meet and one day, when the husband was at work and 
the children at school, the wife, who was employed for only 
five days a week in a government office, decided to go to the 
market to sell six silver spoons which had been part of her little 
dowry. She never came back, and her frantic husband, after 
repeated efforts, located her in the Moscow Checka three weeks 

The section of the Soukharevka nearest the big gate was 
devoted to soap and cigarettes. In spite of the universal scar- 
city of soap, excellent toilet and laundry soap in enormous 
quantities could always be bought there. Much of it was home- 
made soap brought in by the peasants, but much was also from 
apparently inexhaustible hidden stores from the old days. I 
bought there French soaps of well-known makes. The traffic 
in cigarettes and tobacco was most of it perfectly legal and 
quite natural. All Soviet offices give out cigarettes to their 
employees, often as many as five hundred a month, to smokers 
and non-smokers alike. In many offices tobacco, of which they 
had a considerable stock on hand, was given out as part of the 
workers' compensation instead of the more necessary food 
supplies which were not sufficient to go around in all depart- 
ments. I knew an elderly lady who was employed in compiling 
weather reports in the Moscow Meteorological Observatory. 
She received three thousand five hundred roubles a month and 
two pounds of English smoking tobacco which represented in 
value between seventy and eighty thousand roubles. Natur- 
ally it was understood that she would dispose of it. 

In the food market the peasants were allowed to dispose 
of their home-grown produce undisturbed, and bread was 
openly sold, though the government was supposed to have the 
bread monopoly. It was next to impossible to tell what was 
legally placed on sale by persons who received the maximum 
allowance of two pounds a day, such as the Red Army work- 
ers, and those who made it with flour secured through under- 


ground channels, or bread stolen from the government bak- 
eries. Regulations governing the sale on the open market of 
all these things were constantly being changed. One week it 
would be legal, for instance, to sell meat, two weeks after- 
wards there would be a decree forbidding the sale of meat and 
a raid would be made on all meat dealers. It w^as the same 
with butter and many other things. In the late spring the mar- 
ket on the Okhotny Riad was closed and the booths torn down, 
but the Soukharevka was allowed to go on undisturbed. Still 
later all the small stores were closed, then they were opened 
and the Soukharevka closed. Finally, in the early part of 
March, 1921, after the decree permitting free trade, markets, 
stores and street booths were reopened once more. The policy 
of the government with regard to the regulation of private 
trade was so vacillating that no one knew exactly what was 
legal and what was not. 

The frequent raids on the Soukharevka were very exciting, 
and I happened to be in several of them. Often they were di- 
rected against a particular class of illegal traders, again they 
were for the purpose of rounding up deserters or for catching 
the suspicious characters without a permis de sejour, who al- 
ways abounded in Moscow. You could almost always tell 
when a raid was about to take place. Warned by a mysterious 
system of wireless telegraphy, sellers and buyers alike began 
to grow restless, wares were gathered up in bundles, portable 
stands were dismounted, their owners scuttling down side 
streets and vanishing mysteriously into open doorways. Then 
a panicky movement of the crowd began, the more timid simply 
taking to their heels and running. Those who were unlucky 
enough not to make a quick getaway soon found all exits 
blocked by militiamen, who examined all documents and looked 
into all packages. Those who were caught with illegal mer- 
chandise or who were unprovided with proper documents were 
herded en masse, surrounded by a cordon of militiamen, and 
marched off to the Checka, the others were let out one by one. 
When everything was over sellers and buyers began to re- 
assemble, cautiously at first, then more boldly, and in half an 
hour everything was in full swing again. The militiamen 


were as a rule very correct in handling- the crowd and I never 
saw any brutality or violence. The hundreds of thieves who 
always haunted the market usually took advantage of the con- 
fusion to help themselves and made rich hauls. Once I saw 
one of them caught in the act. He was pursued by a young 
militiaman armed with a rifle. Failing to catch up with his 
quarry, he lost his head and fired into the crowd after the 
fugitive, who escaped, but one innocent bystander was killed 
and two wounded. 

The rapidity with which illicit dealers managed to dispose 
of their wares when warned of any approaching raid was posi- 
tively uncanny. One morning I wished to buy a pound of 
butter. There was plenty of fresh country butter on the mar- 
ket, and I was having some difficulty in making a choice. Sud- 
denly word went around that government inspectors were after 
the butter dealers. In five minutes there was not a pound of 
butter to be seen. No one had butter for sale, no one ever 
heard of butter being on the market. 

The peasants who came to town with country produce 
were often very picturesque. I never tired of talking to them 
or of watching their primitive arrangement for weighing their 
wares on a notched stick weighted at one end. Many of ihem 
were enormously rich, in fact, not being able to count, they 
did not know how much money they actually had. A friend 
of mine who was employed in the Commissariat of Agricul- 
ture came in close contact with peasants of this class who 
came in representing their local Soviets to discuss the distri- 
bution of seed grain and other matters. 

One day one of them asked her to come down and spend 
the week-end in his village, promising to give her comfort- 
able quarters, milk, eggs and good country food. At first she 
refused, but finally consented on being promised a large bas- 
ket of eggs and several pounds of honey to take home. When 
she first arrived she was treated as an honored guest, but as 
she knew there was some motive for their invitation she wait- 
ed to see what was coming. On Sunday morning after church 
she found out the real object of the invitation. Several of the 
leading peasants came to see her, carrying huge sacks stuffed 


with what was apparently waste paper. "Barischna," they 
said, "we have a great deal of money. No one in the village 
knows how much he has, because no one here can count over 
ten thousand roubles. Will you count our money for us?" 
She counted all that day and far into the night. Each of the 
peasants had at least several millions. 

For all that the peasants are not contented. Their money 
will not buy them any of the things they most need — agricul- 
tural implements, tools, nails, rope, harness, substantial boots 
and clothing. Consequently they are either hoarding it or buy- 
ing useless luxuries such as bedroom sets of walnut and ma- 
hogany, silver, fine china, silk gowns and jewelry for their 
wives, bric-a-brac and graphophones. 

There is an enormous graphophone section on the Souk- 
harevka, where dozens of machines and thousands of records 
change hands every week. To attract attention to his wares 
each merchant keeps his machine going full blast, and the med- 
ley of popular airs, classic selections, comic operas and rag- 
time is maddening. I once saw a rather dramatic incident in 
this connection. One man, intentionally or unintentionally 
placed on his machine a record of the old national anthem, 
"God Save the Czar." As the first bars sounded through the 
crowd the effect was electric. Everyone within hearing stopped 
short. Most people were visibly terrified, a few openly exult- 
ant, some evidently indignant, but all, including the militiamen 
standing near, were, for the moment, paralyzed. To everyone 
present the familiar air brought a host of memories and recol- 
lections. The first person to recover from the shock was an 
officer in the uniform of the Red Army. Walking up to the 
merchant, he quietly requested him to stop the machine, the 
crowd drew a long breath, recovered its balance, and life went 
on as usual. 

The open air restaurants on the Soukharevka, and there 
were hundreds of them, were always liberally patronized, in 
fact, I often patronized them myself. There you could get 
white rolls with butter, beefsteaks, more often horse than not, 
excellent meat cutlets, hot dogs, periojki, or rolls stuffed with 
forcemeat or chopped hardboiled eggs, tea, coffee, milk by the 


glass, cakes and tarts of all descriptions, kasha, varenetz, which 
is similar to our junket ; kisiel, cran1>erry juice thickened with 
potato flour, and many other Russian dishes. Prices ranged 
from five hundred roubles for a glass of tea or coffee with 
a white roll to nine hundred roubles for a piece of delectable 
pastry. Beefsteak or cutlet with potatoes was from five hun- 
dred to seven hundred and fifty roubles, a bowl of kasha or 
mashed potatoes with chopped u]) carrots and onions was from 
a hundred to two hundred and fifty roubles. 

At the illegal restaurants, which were chiefly in private 
houses where no one could go without an introduction from a 
patron, delicious dinners were served at prices ranging from 
three to five thousand roubles. I was taken to one of these, 
of which later I became an habitue, by an employee of the 
Foreign Ofiice. It was in a very pretty house on an out-of-the- 
way street. The hostess, who waited on us herself, assisted 
by her daughter and an old family servant, was an extremely 
elegant, very pretty woman of a distinguished Georgian fam- 
ily. Her husband was a trusted employee in a government 
office. The table appointments were all most attractive; we 
had delicious meals and most congenial company. Dinner, 
which was served from three until five, consisted of a good 
vegetable soup, followed by roast meat, cutlets, or chicken, 
with two vegetables. Real coffee, white rolls, cakes and tarts, 
of which she always had a great variety, and ices were extra. 

Another restaurant to which I often went was frequented 
by theatrical people, and there I met many of the best known 
artists in Moscow. The actors were also allowed to run a 
semi-legal restaurant not far away, where much better meals 
than those furnished in the Soviet dining-rooms could be ob- 
tained at moderate prices. In June, when the American com- 
mittee from the Joint Distribution Committee came to Mos- 
cow, I often went with one of its three members to an excel- 
lent Jewish restaurant where we had "gefiillte" fish, roast 
goose with apples and onions and other Jewish delicacies. 
Occasionally these places were raided, their owners arrested 
and their supplies confiscated, but others were always spring- 
ing up to take their places. 


For some time I only patronized daytime restaurants, but 
I soon discovered that there were after-theater restaurants 
where you could get coffee, cakes and ices. One of these was 
the "Domino," the poets' club on the Tverskaya, where the 
new poets read their latest effusions nearly every evening and 
there were long debates on the relative merits of the rather 
artificial post-revolutionary schools. I met a number of them, 
among them the famous Dieman Biedni, chief exponent of the 
proletarian poets, who are a direct outcome of the revolution 
and represent the only vital, really interesting literary move- 
ment in Russia at the present time, and knew Mayakovski, a 
Futurist and poet laureate of the Red Army. All these men 
practice poetry on the side as it were, for no one can live in 
Russia by being merely a poet. Biedni is employed in the 
Communist propaganda service. He is a bluff, good-natured, 
wholesome individual, who is immensely popular with the 
masses and makes stirring revolutionary speeches. Mayakov- 
ski is a Red Army officer. Two other literary friends of mine, 
Bobrov and Axionov, were employed, respectively, in the sta- 
tistical section of the Commissariat of Posts and Telegraphs, 
and in the Foreign Office. 

Axionov, who was official host at our guest house on the 
Horitonevski, was frequently assigned the task of personally 
conducting foreign visitors, as well as of acting as intermedi- 
ary between the Checka and the Foreign Office in the case of 
the arrest of foreign subjects. He comes of an old and very 
distinguished Russian family. Before the Revolution he was 
an officer of the Imperial Cavalry, and also, I have heard it 
rumored, chief at one time of the Okhrana or secret police in 
Kiev. He later served as an officer in the Red Army in the 
Petlura and Denikin campaigns. He is a poet of no mean 



ability, lived for many years in Paris, is a connoisseur of 
French art and literature with fine critical perceptions, and a 
great lover of Elizabethan literature. One of his fads is 
the translation of Ben Jonson, on which he was busily engaged 
when I first made his acquaintance. He is professedly a de- 
voted member of the Communist party, and the real object 
for which he is employed is to keep tab on all foreigners, re- 
porting their exact state of mind and their attitude towards the 
Soviet authorities. 

I sometimes went with him to the concerts of the Moscow 
Symphony Orchestra, which has kept up its high standard 
under its old director, Kousevitsky, who was invited to take 
the direction of the Boston Symphony Orchestra many years 
ago. At present he is directing concerts in Europe, getting in 
touch with musicians and buying music for the use of the 
Conservatory under a commandirovka from the Soviet Gov- 
ernment. Like most musicians and artists he has carefully 
kept out of politics. The concerts at the Conservatory — and 
there were a great many of them — ^were always a delight. The 
programs were extremely varied, many of them being most in- 
teresting in character, particularly a series of historical con- 
certs of Russian music, and a series of Scriabine concerts given 
on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of his death. With 
Axionov I also attended several concerts of what is perhaps 
the most wonderful chamber music cjuartette in the world. It 
is composed of four of the finest musicians in Russia, and the 
instruments are all Stradivari! of the first order, taken from 
private collections. The tone is positively luscious, and I have 
never heard anything more beautiful than the perfect ensemble 
of these wonderful instruments in the hands of expert musi- 
cians. Besides these concerts there were many interesting re- 
citals at the Conservatory and elsewhere, and I heard several 
very fine choral concerts of Russian folk music. 

I also attended an exhibition of the new school of Russian 
artists which has developed since the Revolution. To apply 
any name to this school would be impossible; its protagonists 
are not Cubists, Symbolists or Futurists, but wild individual- 
ists, and some of the canvases I saw at their salon looked to 


me more like the efforts of first year kindergarten pupils than 
anything else. 

Amazing conglomerations of the colors of the spectrum, 
applied in cubes, half moons, circles and streaks, were sup- 
posed to represent the Spirit of the Revolution, the Genius of 
Electricity, the Triumph of the Proletariat, or portrait im- 
pressions. There was one clique which employed as a medium 
only black on white, or white on black; another which pro- 
duced so-called paintings by means of wiggly lines of black 
varnish on a dull black background. Connoisseurs of the new 
movement professed to find great merit in these extraordinary 
productions. They seemed to me either utterly childish or mon- 
strously decadent. The vigorous propaganda posters of the 
Centro Pechati, the government printing office, and the Rosta 
cartoons were much more wholesome and interesting. 

It was the same with regard to sculpture. Most of the 
squares in Moscow were adorned with preposterous statues of 
Revolutionary heroes and prophets of the new social order, 
such as Lasalle, Marx and Bakhounin; in the Soviet square 
was an obelisk commemorating the October Revolution. The 
only commendable thing about these productions was that they 
were modeled in plaster or coarse-grained concrete, owing to 
the impossibility of chiselling or casting in Russia under pres- 
ent conditions, and therefore bound to crumble within a com- 
paratively short space of time. 

Most of the good artists in Russia have been compelled 
from necessity to give up purely creative work and go into 
the designing of posters for the government. For this they 
are fairly well paid, and receive all their materials from the 
government stores, as well as ateliers to work in, but many of 
them, who cannot adapt themselves to this work, are very poor 
and suffer terrible privations. 

The same thing is true to a large extent of the poets and 
authors. The government spends nearly all its energies on 
the publication of propaganda literature. It is almost impos- 
sible for an author to have a purely imaginative work pub- 
lished, for there are no private printing presses, and paper is 
very scarce. 


The Moscow authors have a club on the Prechistenka, 
where they hold frequent meetings and read selections from 
their works, but this is necessarily before a very limited pub- 
lic. They also have a small bookshop of their own, where they 
sell the few volumes they are able to put in print, and valuable 
books from their own libraries with which they are compelled 
to part to buy the necessities of life. Famous authors take 
turns keeping shop. It is a cooperative enterprise and the 
proceeds are divided between them. The poets have a similar 
establishment opposite the Art Theater in the Kammergierski 
Pereoulak. To these places the superannuated members of the 
"intelligentsia" bring their cherished libraries to be sold on 
commission, for though this traffic is technically illegal, all 
books being theoretically the property of the state except those 
allowed individuals for use in their special work, it is impos- 
sible to control such sales. 

One of my favorite recreations in Moscow was frequent 
trips to galleries and museums. All of the old galleries, such 
as the Tschoukin and Tretiakov, have been preserved intact, 
and many private collections which were inaccessible to the 
general public before the Revolution have been thrown open 
for everyone to enjoy. The famous Rumiantzev Museum, 
with its historical paintings, its fine library and its remarkable 
ethnographical section, is well kept up. It is not always safe 
to indulge, however, even in such harmless amusements as vis- 
iting museums in Russia. A lady whom I knew very well 
was caught in the Rumiantzev Museum during a raid of the 
Checka. Some of the officials, it seemed, were suspected of 
counter-revolutionary activities, the building was raided and 
all the visitors were arrested and held for six days in the 
Checka as witnesses. 

The Tolstoi museum was open, as was the house of 
Herzen, which has been turned into an interesting exhibit of 
original manuscripts and documents on the early history of 
the Socialist movement among the intellectuals. One of the 
most delightful collections recently thrown open to the public 
was the famous Morosov collection of paintings, bibelots, old 
porcelain and furniture. Then there were the Historical Mu- 


seum on the Niglinnaya, the peasant art, or Kustari exhibit 
in the Leontevsky Pereoulak and many others. 

In addition, a number of new museums were estaWished. 
One of these was a Historical Exhibit of Russian Army Uni- 
forms from the earliest times. It was being assembled in the 
former home of Prince Youssoupov, the man who murdered 
Rasputin. The palace, which was a gift of one of the Czars 
to the Youssoupovs, is a picturesque pile of buildings in a large 
garden surrounded by a superb wrought iron rail. The oldest 
portion was built in the seventeenth century, and is typical of 
the Russian architecture of that period. It is flanked by a 
semicircle of picturesque one-story outbuildings, formerly used 
as officers' and servants' quarters. During the imperial war it 
was turned over to the British Red Cross, and for some time 
after the Revolution a number of British officers were in- 
terned there. The proletarian museums, of which there are 
several devoted to applied arts and technical subjects, were also 
most interesting. 

The theatres were an unalloyed pleasure to me, beginning 
with the Grand Opera, where I was usually able to get a seat 
once a week or oftener in the box reserved for the Foreign 
Office. While nothing new has been put on within the last 
few years, the repertoire of operas and ballets is but little 
below the pre-war standard, though of the former stars none 
are left but Gelser, whose dancing is perennially delightful, in 
spite of the fact that she is nearly fifty, and Nyezhdanova, the 
leading soprano, who has a really exquisite voice. Much gos- 
sip is current anent Gelser, who is reputed in Moscow to be an 
agent of the Checka, her special function being said to be de- 
nunciation of those who still have jewels or money in their 
possession or who are trying to secretly dispose of them, but 
this has been indignantly denied by the dancer herself and 
many of her friends. 

SchaHapin does not sing at the "Bolshoi Oper," as the 
Moscow Grand Opera House is called, and is officially attached 
to the Marinski Opera in Petrograd. When he comes to 
Moscow he sings at the Little Opera, as he had a quarrel 
with the director of the Grand Opera and refuses to appear 


there. I often heard him in "Faust" and "Boris Godounov," 
his favorite roles. His voice has failed considerably, but his 
acting is as wonderful as ever. He also frequently appeared 
at the Hermitage, one of Moscow's summer theaters. 

The people of the working classes adore him as there is a 
story of how from a blacksmith he became a great artist. 
About two years ago he became a Communist and his glorious 
interpretation of such songs as the Dubinushka or the Inter- 
national is enough to make any impressionable individual run 
out and register as a candidate for party membership. Never- 
theless he is reputed to be immensely rich in the only concrete 
wealth in Russia at the present time — provisions. As a gov- 
ernment employee he receives the excellent payok and pay ac- 
corded to all artists; in addition he gets a premium in food 
products for every appearance in public and has permission to 
sing in concerts organized by the trades unions, governmental 
departments and various Communist organizations. For this 
he always exacts payment in kind, his price sometimes being 
prohibitive. I remember one occasion on which he was turned 
down because his price was too high. The employees of the 
War Office organized a concert for the benefit of a fund to pur- 
chase provisions for distribution among those who were in need 
of extra rations owing to the number of non-workers dependent 
on them. Schaliapin was asked his terms, which were as 
follows: half a pood of cocoa (a pood is thirty-six pounds), 
half a pood of rice, and a pood of white flour. The concert 
was held without him, but it was a great success. I attended 
with Mile. Buturlin, daughter of an old Imperial general, and 
young Madame Brusilov, both of whom worked on the staff 
of the War Office. After the concert there was an informal 
dance at which there were many Red Army officers. The girls 
all wore pretty summer costumes, and it was a very pleasant 

I found the regular theaters in Moscow both excellent and 
at the same time disappointing. To begin with there was the 
Art Theater, with Stanislavski as its head, which was giving 
exactly the same class of plays as it had always done, with the 
same perfection of detail and stage settings, the same finished 


acting. The repertoire of the theater included historical plays, 
such as "Boris Godounov," and "Tzar Feodor," one or two 
of Tchekov's comedies, Tolstoi's "Living Corpse," Gorki's "On 
the Bottom," a translation of Dickens' "Cricket on the Hearth," 
which was very popular; a translation of Berger's American 
play, "The Deluge," a Russian version of Byron's "Cain," 
spectacularly staged with wonderful scenic effects quite re- 
markable considering the difficulties in obtaining materials and 
technical equipment in Russia at the present time, and an up- 
to-date version of the old French opera, "The Daughter of 
Madame Angot." This, as a revolutionary play, had quite a 
vogue in Moscow, and its permission by the Soviet authorities 
was a testimony to the liberal views of the government in ar- 
tistic matters. It is really a satire on the French Revolution. 
In one scene the hero comes out and says, "It's fine to live in a 
Republic. Before the Revolution I was locked up in one prison. 
Now I go from one prison to another." This sally was al- 
ways greeted with roars of delight from the audience, as was a 
remark to the effect that a Republic is the last place in which 
anyone wants to hear the truth. 

The Art Theater has under its direction two small theaters, 
known as the First and Second Studios, the former in the 
Soviet square, the latter in the Miliyutinsky Pereoulak, where 
new productions are tried out and young artists trained for the 
main theater. I saw several charming plays there, one a revival 
of an old Polish legend, "Balladina," which was given at the 
First Studio, the other a dream play with a socialistic moral, 
"The Rose Pattern." Both were beautifully staged and excel- 
lently presented. 

The Pokazatelni, or Portable Theater, has introduced rather 
new and original stage settings, but its repertoire is confined 
to Shakespearian productions and translations of the Goldoni 
comedies. There were also the Little Theater and the Korsch, 
where comedies of Tchekov and Madame Gippius were given ; 
the Gabima, where Jewish plays were presented in Hebrew, the 
most popular being a version of Eugene Sue's "Wandering 
Jew," under the title of "The Eternal Jew"; and the Nikit- 
skaya, a comic opera theater where "The Dollar Princess," 


"The Merry Widow," and "The Geisha," with time-worn cos- 
tumes and voices, were tlie only attraction. 

The only really interesting theater from the standpoint of 
originality was the Kammerni, which was founded several 
years ago by a group of secessionists from the Art Theater, 
headed by Tairov and Madame Konen, a delightful artist. 
Tairov, with whom I had several conversations, has very orig- 
inal ideas about stage production. He maintains that no mat- 
ter how fine the lines of any play, its immediate appeal is to 
the vision alone; that the ear is half as quick as the eye to 
absorb impressions. Therefore he devotes great attention to 
gesture and pantomime, according them what seems to the 
theatergoer accustomed to ordinary stage technique a some- 
what exaggerated importance. The pantomime of the actor 
throughout must emphasize every shade of emotion; the in- 
flections of the voice are of secondary importance. 

Tairov's stage settings are bizarre, often decidedly Cubistic 
and somewhat bewildering, but they are all interpretative of 
the spirit as well as of the actual mise en scene of the play. 
In "Sakuntala," for example, attention is not paid so much 
to reproducing with historical accuracy the costumes of the 
period as to emphasize the erotic symbolism of the old Indian 
legend. Other plays produced by Tairov during the season of 
1919-20 were: "Salome," "Adrienne Lecouvreur," "Pierette's 
Veil," a pantomime with new and very interesting incidental 
music, and "Princess Brambilla," a satire taken from the 
Decameron of Boccaccio, very cleverly ridiculing the blood 
and thunder plays of the romantic period. Scri-be's "Adrienne 
Lecouvreur" was interpreted in the same manner. He is the 
only stage director in Moscow who ignores tradition and ex- 
presses something of the iconoclastic spirit of the Revolution. 

After I was imprisoned I was told by some of the people 
in my room in the Checka that the Nikitskaya Theater, which 
had existed under private management, had been turned into a 
theater of Revolutionary Satire, and that very clever perfor- 
mances were given there. 

A prisoner from Petrograd described to me the lurid plot 
of one of these Satires which she had seen shortly before her 


arrest. It was called "The Dirty Dog," and was intended 
primarily to appeal to the Red Army men. Half of the action 
of the piece took place in the audience itself. It opened with 
the session of a produce exchange which dealt in human 
flesh. A manufacturer and a general wearing a death's head 
appear and order workmen and men for cannon fodder. The 
brokers dash into the audience and bring out a young working- 
man who serves as a sample for the merchandise to be delivered 
for the human sacrifice to Capital and Militarism. He displays 
his muscles, makes him show his teeth, feels him from head 
to foot, declares him sound in mind and limb, and finally drives 
a bargain at a wholesale price, for so many thousands. 

A revolutionary poet jumps onto the stage and protests, 
threatens to commit suicide and is thrown out by the "boun- 
cers." A sleek "Madam," painted, powdered and befeathered, 
comes on and picks out a lovely young girl from the audience. 
She is also bought for a price and carried off to white slavery. 
Predatory capitalism continues its traffic in lives until the 
inevitable moment of retribution, when there is a terrific thun- 
derclap, the entire structure of the produce exchange falls, 
crushing its members and their satellites, and the five-pointed 
star of the Soviet Republic rises above the ruins. 

At the circus in Moscow there is a famous clown called 
Bim Bourn, who has gotten into trouble a number of times 
over his proclivities for making fun of the Soviet Government. 
Once he came out and began wearily to tell how hard it was 
to hve in Moscow, how scarce food was, how next to impos- 
sible to get a log of wood or a pair of shoes. Then he sat 
down on a drum and put his head on his hands quite dejectedly. 
His interlocutor inquired, 

"Well, Bim Bourn, what are you going to do about it?" 
No answer from Bim Bourn, 

"What are you waiting for anyhow?" 

"I'm waiting to see what the Russian people are going 
to do about it," was the answer. 

On another occasion Bim Boum came out with a picture of 
Lenin and one of Trotzki. "I've got two beautiful portraits," 
he announced. "I'm going to take them home with me," 


"What will you do with them when you get them home ?" 
he was asked. 

"Oh, I'll hang one on a nail and put the other against the 
wall," was the quick retort. 

Again Bim Boum propounded a conundrum. "Why is 
the Soviet Republic like a wheel?" he asked, and receiving no 
reply, proceeded to give the answer. "Because it is held to- 
gether by the Checka," checka being the Russian word for 
hub, and at the same time the popular abbreviation for the title 
of the much dreaded Extraordinary Commission. 

For these and other remarks of like character Bim Boum 
has spent many weeks in prison, but he is always released after 
a few days because he is about the most popular entertainer 
in Moscow and the Soviet authorities fully realize the enor- 
mous importance of keeping up the public morale through 
theaters and amusements. 

At the Nikitskaya Circus, a theater where both legitimate 
drama and vaudeville are given during the summer months, 
I heard a popular artist sing a song describing the fate of a 
horse that died in Moscow. First the carcass was sent to 
the Narkomsdrav, Commissariat of Health, to discover the 
cause of death, then to the Narkompros, the Commissariat of 
Education for anatomical research, then to the "Glavkozh" 
Leather Administration, for the sake of its hide, and finally 
to the Narkomprod, Food Administration, to be carved into 

There was a vaudeville theater called "The Bat," where 
excellent vaudeville performances were given and there was a 
very clever monologist who was almost as daring and cjuite 
as popular, with a rather different audience, as Bim Boum. Be- 
tween the acts refreshments such as coffee, cakes and ices were 
served at The Bat. It was a great rendezvous for the rich 
speculators and their mistresses. 

The motion picture theaters in Moscow were as a rule 
gloomy and unattractive places, poorly heated, dirty, and for 
the most part, displaying worn-out films from pre-war days. 
There were a few theaters where the Soviet news weeklies were 
shown together with a number of propaganda films, but the 


government has been terribly hampered with regard to film 
production by the lack of technical material. The motion pic- 
ture industry is controlled by the Kino Komitet, a branch of 
the Department of Education, and it has planned a wonderful 
program on paper for popular amusement and education 
through the movies, but at present little can be done. 

I have almost forgotten to mention one of the most delight- 
ful theaters in Moscow, the Children's Theater, where all last 
year performances were given on several afternoons during 
the week and on Sundays, of a dramatization of Kipling's 
"Jungle Book," under the title "Mowgli." It was charmingly 
acted and the jungle stage settings were quite extraordinary. 
There were a number of special performances at this theater 
for child speculators who were picked up on the streets by 
special agents of the Department of Education and given free 
tickets to the performance. Between the acts a woman speaker 
came out and told them what a mistake they were making, 
what poor citizens they were, and tried to induce them to give 
up their illegitimate calling and go back to school. This 
theater was also used for children's concerts where the various 
numbers on the program were explained in terms the children 
could all understand. 

Most of the theaters and vaudeville houses were national- 
ized, but others such as the Art Theater and the Nikitskaya 
were run by collectives as cooperative enterprises. They were 
compelled to turn over a certain number of seats at each per- 
formance for distribution among the trades unions and gov- 
ernment offices at fixed prices, and their artists were required 
to give their services for a fixed number of free perfomances 
in various institutions and factories, and for the Red Army. 
Companies were frequently sent to the front or to the provinces 
under the management of the Department of Education. 

It was very amusing to note that ticket speculators flourish 
in Moscow just as they do on Broadway. In addition to the 
seats distributed free a certain number of seats for theatrical 
performances and concerts are sold at the government ticket 
office on the Petrovka and at the various theaters. These 
tickets as well as those received by workmen and employees 


free are bought up by the speculators and sold at an advance 
of sometimes two or three hundred per cent. The curbs in 
front of the theaters were often lined with them before the 
evening's performance. They were frequently rounded up 
and arrested, but in a few days the industry was as thriving 
as ever. 

The Art Theater was rather crippled during the winter 
season of 1920 by the absence of three of its principal artists, 
Madame Germanova, Madame Knieper and Kachalev, who 
had gone to Kharkov before it was taken by Denikin in the 
autumn of 1919 and had, as many people asserted, deliberately 
allowed themselves to be captured by the Whites. After the 
defeat of Denikin they were afraid, so it was reported, to come 
back to Moscow. They finally returned, in the autumn of 
1920, and were allowed to resume their work unmolested. 
At present they are touring Europe. Stanislavski, who is 
getting old, was much disheartened over the outlook. He 
missed his bourgeois audiences, and did not feel, so he told 
me, the same enthusiasm about playing before the proletariat. 
He complained of the scarcity of stage material, of the diffi- 
culty of life in Moscow, and was only living for the time when 
he would be able to take his company out of Russia and tour 
Europe and America. 

In this I think Stanislavski was wrong. I found every- 
where among the lower classes in Russia an intense apprecia- 
tion, though not always comprehension of all that was best in 
art, music and literature. On the whole I think the Russian 
people have more unerring artistic instincts than any people 
with whom I have ever been brought in contact. The crowds 
of the great unwashed at operas, plays and symphony con- 
certs were usually almost reverentially attentive, even if it was 
at times a bit over their heads. This, of course, applies to the 
town population only. The peasants were usually mystified, 
and often frankly bored at efforts made to cultivate them. 


By the end of May the Polish offensive wa> in full swing 
and I witnessed a remarkable change in the attitude of the 
people towards the government. It aroused a perfect storm 
of national feeling, somewhat stimulated, it is true, by adroit 
propaganda, but none the less sincere at bottom. Thousands 
of former officers volunteered their services against the Poles 
in perfect good faith; engineers, doctors, and professional men 
generally rallied to the support of the government. The Men- 
sheviks and Social Revolutionaries voluntarily agreed to sus- 
pend all political activities during the period of the war. The 
common soldiers were lured by the promise of extra food 
rations and raids into a country where food supplies were 
more plentiful. 

Moscow was plastered from end to end with patriotic 
placards and posters and some of these were extraordinarily 
effective. None of them were directed against the Polish 
people, but all against the Polish Pans, the feudal aristocracy, 
who, it was alleged, had plunged both countries into war against 
the wishes of the people. Poles living in Russia, whether Com- 
munists or not, were bitterly opposed to the war and saw 
in it the possible ruin of their own country. 

At this time the morale of the Russian people was further 
strengthened by the visit of the British Labor Delegation, and 
the Soviet authorities did not fail to make the most of the 
propaganda possibilities afforded by its foreign guests. In the 
beginning of June, I accompanied the British Labor Delegation 
on its trip down the Volga. We went by rail from Moscow 
to Nijni-Novgorod, and thence by steamer to Saratov, stopping 
at Simbirsk, Samara, Kazan, the capital of the Tartar Re- 
public, Marxstadt, the capital of the German Commune, and 
many villages en route. 



Our official hosts were Sverdlov, then actual head of the 
Soviet Railroad Administration, temporarily replacing Krassin 
who was in London, and Losovski, president of the All-Russian 
Soviet of Trades Unions. In the party, in addition to the 
members of the British delegation, were two delegates from 
the British Shop Stewards' Committee, a German Syndicalist, 
several Swedish Socialists, and a small international group of 
correspondents. The latter included Mr. Meekin of the London 
Daily Nezvs; Henry Alsberg, an American newspaper man, who 
on the Volga trip as well as in Moscow acted for some time as 
correspondent of the London Daily Herald; Bertrand Russell, 
the great Cambridge mathematician and Fabian Socialist, who 
was to write a series of articles on Russia for the Republic; Ru- 
dolph Herzog, the German publicist; M. Marsillac of the Lib- 
eral French paper Le Joiirfial, and Signor Magrini from the 
Italian Serratist organ, Avanti. We were furnished with offi- 
cial interpreters by the Moscow Foreign Office, and in the entire 
party, with the exception of Charles Buxton, who had come to 
Russia as a member of the British delegation with the specific 
object of ascertaining whether there were any traces left in the 
Volga region, of the work of the British Society of Friends 
among the peasants which was stopped after the Revolution, 
there was no one who spoke any Russian except myself. For 
that reason I was able to get a better first-hand estimate of the 
situation than any of the other foreigners. 

Our tour was a most luxurious one throughout, giving no 
idea of the ordinary hardships of travel in Russia at the present 
time. We had a special train composed of International 
Sleepers, with all the former comforts including spotless linen, 
and electric lights, a dining car where we had three good meals 
a day, service and appointments being very nearly up to 
peace time standards. The same conditions were reproduced 
on our steamer which was one of the best boats of the Volga 
Steam Navigation Company, whose summer tours were form- 
erly included in the itinerary of every traveler who "did" 
Russia properly. We had no meals on shore except a superb 
banquet at Nijni-Novgorod, beginning with the sakouski 
hors d'ceuvres for which Russia was famous in the old days 


and ending with ices. Taking it all in all the only physical 
hardship endured on the trip was the absence of vodka, which 
was particularly trying to those who had forgotten to bring 
their flasks with them. 

At Sormovo, the great locomotive and munition works near 
Nijni-Novgorod, a demonstration was arranged in honor of 
the delegation, with a brass band, red banners galore; the cheer- 
ing proletariat turned out in force to be told by English and 
Russian speakers that their troubles would soon be over and 
that the visit of the British Delegation was the first visible evi- 
dence of the united support of the Soviet Republic by the 
working masses of the outside world. Similar meetings were 
arranged in all the towns, and it soon became evident to the 
members of the delegation that they were being used to stimu- 
late the morale of the Russian people and were not getting an 
insight into real conditions. 

When the matter was put up to Sverdlov and Losovski 
they agreed with perfect fairness that this was so, and at 
once arranged for us to stop at a number of villages, which 
had not been included in the original itinerary. This was a 
real sacrifice on their part because it meant cutting out an 
elaborate celebration at Kazan, including manoeuvres of the 
Army Reserve Corps stationed there, which was sixty thousand 
strong. In the towns and villages the members of the delega- 
tion were given opportunities to talk with the people, but they 
could only do this by means of interpreters ; and as the peasants 
are by nature secretive, and by training and habit dating back 
to pre-revolutionary days, suspicious of any official personages 
coming from the "center" as the capitol is called, they learned 
comparatively little about the actual situation. Being able to 
speak a little Russian, I made a point of cutting loose from 
the official party, and in many small homes and izbas, where 
I was received with the wholesouled hospitality and simple 
friendliness that are among the many lovable traits of the 
Russian people, I acquired facts that left no doubt in my mind 
as to the imminence of coming famine. 

Crops in the provinces on both sides of the Volga were 
average or above, but the acreage under cultivation had been 


steadily declining since 1916. This was due partly to the 
fact that most of the young men had been conscripted in the 
Kolchak or Red Armies and that portions of the country had 
been devastated during the civil war, but principally to the lack 
of seeds, fertilizer, farm implements, and the opposition of the 
peasants to the land tax and requisitioning systems. 

The land tax required them to deliver to the government 
everything they produced in the way of farm and dairy prod- 
ucts above a certain quantity fixed at so much per capita and 
estimated by the government as sufficient to carry them over 
till the next harvest. There was no incentive for them to raise 
anything beyond the amount necessary to supply their own 
needs, and they had no confidence in the promises of the govern- 
ment to give them in return the seeds and implements which 
would enable them to plant a larger acreage another year, when 
the existing land tax, which it was understood was only a 
temporary war measure, would be replaced by one based on the 
return of a percentage of the harvest, leaving them in posses- 
sion of the remainder. It was evident that some districts 
would fall far below the quota in the matter of returns and 
only one, the Tartar Republic, had a prospect of exceeding the 
required amount. In many places the peasants had concealed 
huge quantities of food supplies, the hiding places had been 
betrayed or discovered and everything confiscated, leaving them 
face to face with the necessity of buying from their neighbors 
or starving. 

In addition there had been special requisitions for the 
immediate needs of the Red Army in many districts, and nom- 
inally voluntary levies for the children in Moscow and Petro- 
grad. There was an enormous amount of stealing and corrup- 
tion among the local government officials, so that many people 
were actually hungry in the early summer of 1920, with the 
prospect of the continuance of the requisitions. It was evi- 
dent that there would not be enough seeds to go around in the 
autumn distribution and that the acreage planted for 1921 
would be less than that of the previous season. Many peasants 
were emigrating to the large towns in search of factory em- 


I also heard reports of a real famine to the east along the 
foothills of the Urals, and ran into several large parties of 
peasants from the Ufa district who told me that there was no 
bread or work there and that they were emigrating west in 
search of employment and food. 

At one of the villages between Samara and Saratov where 
Sverdlov stopped to meet some people on business matters we 
met the first party of emigrants. It was late at night when 
we arrived and the emigrants were camped on the river bank, — 
men in sheepskin coats, high boots and astrakhan caps ; women 
in gaily colored shawls and head kerchiefs were huddled in 
picturesque groups around their fires as the spring nights were 
still cold, crooning weird songs, laughing and shouting to one 
another or talking in low tones. Their baggage, boxes, bales, 
nail-studded red chests and bulky bundles were in conglomerate 
heaps. In the background was a forest of birch and spruce. 
Over all was the pale light of the spring moon. It was one 
of the most picturesque sights imaginable. 

On the way to Saratov we stopped at the German autono- 
mous commune of Marxstadt, a colony founded in the days 
of Catherine the Great, which has kept its German character 
for almost a century and a half. Many of the inhabitants to 
this day speak only German. Marxstadt was run with true 
Teutonic efficiency. All requisitions proceeded in the most 
orderly manner, available supplies were equitably distributed, 
schools, hospitals and all community enterprises were well 
administered, and the small local industries were in a rela- 
tively flourishing condition. The percentage of illiteracy 
among the inhabitants was remarkably small for Russia, only 
fifteen per cent. The inhabitants were already perturbed, how- 
ever, over the fact that their reserve supplies were exhausted, 
and they told me that, unless the early harvest in 1921 was a 
good one, the food situation would be very serious. 

At Marxstadt we had a small sized scandal which was the 
subject of much gossip and no little excitement aboard ship. 
The German syndicalist, who was a member of our party, asked 
permission when we arrived at Marxstadt, to make a speech 
to his fellow countrymen. To the horror of the Soviet au- 


thorities he burst forth into a violent denunciation of the en- 
tire Communist system, asserting that the people were just 
as much slaves in Russia as anywhere else and denouncing 
what he termed the military imperialism of the Soviet oli- 
garchy. Pie was finally cut short by Losovski, who was a 
most tactful and pacific individual. He made the suggestion 
that as everybody was hungry we had better go to supper. 

Across the way from Marxstadt was a village of Old Be- 
lievers, a primitive Greek sect, of whom there are still several 
hundred thousands in Russia. They regard all who do not 
share their faith as unclean, and it is against their principles 
to use any articles touched by non-believers. Though they in- 
vited us to have tea and simple refreshments in their houses 
they would not serve us from their own dishes, but used those 
specially provided for the purpose. In this village we saw 
the Executive Committee of the Soviet in session, and it seemed 
to be transacting its business afifairs with considerable effi- 

There was a very clean hospital, well equipped, though 
lacking in some of the most necessary medicines, a good school 
building, a library and the newly established village museum, 
of which the inhabitants were very proud. The chief objects 
displayed in it were some geological specimens, a few anti- 
quated muskets, some caterpillars and a large wasp's nest. 

The farm implements in use in the village were of the most 
primitive description. I saw ploughs which looked as if they 
might have belonged to Biblical days with wooden shares, 
bound together with thongs instead of nails, and the women 
did not even have spinning wheels, but spun their wool and 
flax with a distaff and spindle. In the village cooperative 
store we found a little salt, a few yards of calico and some kegs 
of nails. That was practically all the people were getting on 

In the towns food was scarce, and the government rations, 
except those for the Red Army and war industries workers, 
were exceedingly meagre, the bread ration being three quarters 
of a pound a day, and not always regularly supplied. There 
was a universal dearth of salt and sugar. Meat was cheap and 


plentiful in the open market, but this was a bad sign, for it 
meant that the peasants were kiUing their cows and horses 
owing to the scarcity of fodder. 

A vigorous "plant more and plant better" campaign was 
being waged by the government, but it was not backed up by 
definite prospects of seeds and supplies to insure its being car- 
ried out, and the people were fully convinced that a famine was 

In Saratov we were treated to the usual rounds of recep- 
tions and public functions. I cut them all and went out to 
talk with the people. I learned that there was already great 
scarcity of food, citizens were receiving half a pound of bread 
a day on cards, and very little else. Prices in the markets 
were lower than in Moscow, but high as compared with the 
wage scale which is lower in the provinces. 

While walking through the streets I saw a young Jewish 
girl dressed in filthy rags huddled on the steps of a house gaz- 
ing stolidly ahead in apparently hopeless despair. She told 
me that she was nearly starving. She was employed for 
three days in the week in a Soviet dining room, receiving a 
small stipend, and barely enough food to keep her alive. Her 
father and mother were dead and she had an old grandfather 
and grandmother to support, neither of whom received any- 
thing from the social maintenance department of the provin- 
cial government. In the dining room, she told me, she was 
constantly subjected to insults from the other girl employees, 
who taunted her with being a "Jgid," and only the day before 
she had had her face scratched and her clothes torn by sev- 
eral of her companions who set about to beat her up because 
she was a Jewess. 

At Saratov I asked permission to remain on the steamer 
on which Sverdlov was proceeding to Astrakhan as I had 
been nursing Clifford Allen, a member of the British Delega- 
tion, who was desperately ill with pneumonia and not in con- 
dition to be moved. This permission was refused and no 
correspondents were allowed to go on to Astrakhan. Dr. 
Haden Guest, Mrs. Snowden and Bertrand Russell remained 
with Mr. Allen. The correspondents, including myself and 


the rest of the delegation, returned to Moscow on a special 
train via Tambov, according to the original plan. 

In the Tambov district we saw thousands of acres of un- 
cultivated land, the crops looked exceedingly poor and I was 
told by a man in the station that in many villages the peasants 
were actually without bread, and the general bad outlook for 
the harvest was complicated by the activities of Antonov, the 
Social Revolutionary leader, under whom a number of small 
sporadic revolts were constantly breaking out. Altogether it 
was evident that even under the most favorable conditions 
at least several millions of people would this year be facing 
complete or partial famine in the Volga and Tambov districts, 
and that they were not going to be able to contribute their al- 
lotted quota towards the appro visionment of the cities and the 
industrial population. 

On the trip I had many long talks with the members of the 
delegation. They were divided into three distinct groups, the 
extreme left represented by Robert Williams of the Transport 
Workers. Williams apparently saw nothing and believed 
everything that was told him. He seemed carried away by a 
sort of romantic hysteria and made many speeches that I am 
sure he would never have uttered in England. Before he left 
he had practically pledged the support of the British Trans- 
port workers to the Third International and direct Revolu- 
tionary action in England. I am not sure whether the canny 
Bolsheviks put entire confidence in his Red promises. He 
was a very popular figure at meetings, however, and he had 
learned a few words of Russian with which he always brought 
down the house. With his execrable Russian accent he inter- 
larded every speech with "Da sdrast vuyet Sovietski Vlast, 
da sdrast vuyet mimoe revolutye." "Long live the Soviet 
Government, long live the world revolution." Anything else 
he said mattered very little. 

Wollhead, leader of the British Independent Labor Party, 
was thoroughly in sympathy with the aims of the Soviet Re- 
public as far as its own internal administration was con- 
cerned, and like all the members of the delegation and the 
press people who accompanied it he was unalterably opposed 


to blockade and intervention. He regarded the Communist 
dictatorship as a wonderful experiment, the success or failure 
of which could only be fairly determined by giving the Bol- 
sheviks a chance. As a Marxian Social-Democrat he believed 
in the dictatorship of the proletariat and the combination of 
parliamentarianism with direct action, but he resented the dic- 
tatorship of the Russian controlled Communist International. 
He and Lenin had some hot words on the subject when the 
delegation returned to Moscow, which resulted in the failure 
of the Independent Labor Party to join the Third Interna- 
tional. They proposed to make a revolution in England in due 
time, but they were not going to have Moscow tell them when 
to make it or how to make it. 

I was much amused on one occasion to detect the under- 
lying sturdy British nationalism of Wollhead, for all his de- 
testation of the capitalistic class. We were talking about the 
retirement of the British forces in Northern Persia from the 
shores of the Caspian sea. A Soviet despatch announced that 
the Commander had been forced to retire on account of the 
bombardment by Red gunboats. 

"By God," said Wollhead impetuously, "if we had had one 
British gunboat there we could have sent their little tin navy 
to the bottom of the Caspian." It was the most spontaneous 
thing I heard said during the entire visit of the delegation. 

The right wing of the delegation was from the first op- 
posed to the principles of the Third International. Its favor- 
able disposition towards the Soviet Government as such was 
considerably changed by the evident intention of its leaders to 
exploit them, to use them for propaganda purposes, represent- 
ing them as sympathizers with rather than investigators of 
actual conditions, and they resented having their time planned 
out for them and the efforts made to block any independent 
investigation and interviews with the representatives of oppo- 
sition parties. Dr. Haden Guest, Shaw, Turner and Mrs. 
Snowden took this attitude. Dr. Guest in particular, a former 
British Army officer and a man close to the coalition govern- 
ment, was the object of much suspicion. It was openly insin- 
uated that he was an agent of the British Government and 


only the guarantees given the delegation secured him personal 
immunity from arrest. 

Clifford Allen, who was desperately ill during most of his 
stay in Russia, was the only real Communist in the party, and 
even he was rather contemptuously looked upon by certain 
leaders for his pacifism. Bertrand Russell as a Fabian was 
also profoundly shocked by what he regarded as a tendency 
to Communist imperialism. 

The leaders at Moscow were constantly running up against 
this sturdy independence on the part of foreign Socialists 
during the summer, and I believe that when the labor history 
of the present transition period is written, the year 1920 will 
be marked as the apogee of Russian influence in the World 
Revolutionary movement, and the beginning of its decline. 



The two outstanding events of the summer which dragged 
on without incident except for the depression caused by the 
mihtary reverses of the Red Army, were the great festival of 
the Third International, and the train of local disturbances 
due to the Polish situation. I was not allowed to attend 
the congress of the International or to talk with the delegates, 
but I took part in some of the public celebrations, the most 
elaborate of which was the great parade held in the Red Square 
in honor of the delegates. The whole square, bounded on the 
west by the crenelated battlements of the Kremlin, on the 
south by the cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed, on the east 
by the buildings of the great Kazansky Bazaar where Mos- 
cow's trade with the Far East was formerly carried on, and on 
the north by the Moscow Historical Museum, was transformed 
into a glorious riot of color by standards hung with red ban- 
ners and pennants. 

All the surrounding buildings were draped with huge 
posters painted on linen, representing the Triumphal of the 
World Proletariat and of the Soviet armies. Fraternal greet- 
ings to the delegates floated in letters of gold in every imag- 
inable language from innumerable banners and placards. Over 
the cathedral of St. Basil hovered a flock of sausages and 
other balloons dripping red pennants and streamers ; Red Army 
airplanes circled overhead, all day long, dropping showers 
of propaganda leaflets. On the west side of the square was a 
large tribune with an elevated portion in the center for the 
People's Commissars and the speakers of the day, flanked by 
seats on the right for the foreign delegates and on the left for 
the members of the Central Executive Committee. 

The delegates were of every nationality under the sun, and 



the sober costumes of the Europeans and Americans threw in 
rehef the bright spots of color afforded by the Orientals, some 
of whom wore truly magnificent costumes with jeweled chains 
around their necks and flashing jewels in their turbans. From 
the tribune Trotzki reviewed the great parade which began at 
ten in the morning and lasted until nearly five in the afternoon. 
First came detachments from every branch of the Red Army, 
including a picturesque regiment of Uhlans, carrying lances 
with small red pennants; then followed the militia, the armed 
bands of factory workers, of whom there are thirty thousand 
in Moscow, and the great mass of the proletariat representing 
the twenty-three trades unions and every department of the 
Soviet Government. Each detachment marched with military 
precision and carried its own banners inscribed with Revolu- 
tionary mottoes. 

The men nearly all had a touch of red somewhere and the 
women, of whom there were thousands, wore red head ker- 
chiefs. There were innumerable bands and when these were 
lacking detachments marched by singing the "Red Flag" or 
the "International." Thousands of school children and num- 
bers of regiments of boy scouts were in line, representing the 
Communist youth. One detachment of boys made a particu- 
larly good impression. They were members of an athletic 
organization and marched in swimming trunks only, displaying 
their sunburned muscular frames to great advantage. It was, 
"on the surface, a wonderful spontaneous demonstration of the 
power of the proletariat. Later, however, when I discovered 
that the employees of the Soviet offices were compelled to take 
part in the procession under threats of various punishments, 
one of which was that of losing their weekly food ration, I 
had some doubts about this fact. It was undoubtedly true, 
however, that the great mass of factory workers entered heart 
and soul into the mood of the demonstration. 

The pageant in the Red Square was vntnessed by few of 
the inhabitants of Moscow except those who took part in it. 
Admission was by ticket only, all approaches were most care- 
fully guarded by detachments of Red Cavalry and infantry, 
and every guest's credentials were minutely scrutinized. On 


either side of the tribunal was a military exhibit representing 
every branch of the Red Army service. 

During the afternoon and evening the people of Moscow 
were treated to a series of open air theatrical performances; 
special trolleys, equipped with portable stage settings were 
sent all over the city; the services of artists from all the 
theatres had been requisitioned for the day and comedies, op- 
erettas and vaudeville performances were given in all the 
squares. Accompanying each unit was a Communist propa- 
gandist, who talked to the crowd between the acts. At night 
under a great arch which forms one of the entrances to the 
Kitai Gorod, the walled enclosure which lies just east of the 
Kremlin, I saw a wonderful performance by a workmen's 
dramatic club of the Greek tragedy of Eschylus, "Edipus Tyr- 
annus." There was an even more elaborate pageant, so I was 
told, in Petrograd, after which the business of the Third In- 
ternational was conducted, in a very sober manner, in the 
Imperial Palace at the Kremlin. 

Another impressive ceremony which took place at about 
this time was a review by Trotzki, in the Opera Square, of 
five hundred graduates from the General Staff Officers' School 
in Moscow. I was lucky enough to meet Kamenev of the 
Moscow Soviet just before it began and he found an excel- 
lent place for me on the steps of the Opera House just behind 
Trotzki, While we were waiting for the review to begin I 
had a conversation with another Kamenev, Chief of Staff of 
the Red Armies, He told me something of the plan of mili- 
tary training. Military service in Russia is compulsory for 
all citizens between the ages of eighteen and forty. When 
the army is on a peace footing the term of active service will 
be six months, after which the soldier becomes part of the re- 
serves of the Red Army. These reserves are kept in training 
by compulsory drill of two hours a week. They constitute 
what is known as The Workers' Militia. Officers' courses in 
the General Staff school extend over a period of three years. 
The period of training for line officers in the army and the 
reserves is from six to eight months. The line schools are 
scattered all over Russia. At that time there were nearly four 


hundred in operation and it was planned to establish at least 
three hundred more. Working men and peasants as well as 
men of university education are eligible for these courses if 
they show special fitness for such training. Kamenev, who 
was formerly an officer in the Imperial Army, is a middle- 
aged man of fine appearance, with all the earmarks of a pro- 
fessional soldier, and seems to take little interest in politics, his 
aim being merely to train a first class fighting machine. 

Petrovsky, chief of the Army Political Schools, whom I 
met at the same time, was, on the contrary, a red hot Commun- 
ist. He had the supervision of most of the two hundred and 
fifty thousand Communists, who were mobilized and sent to the 
front in every branch of the army as political commissars, 
teachers, officers, Red Cross men and even as private soldiers. 
I have already told something of the organization of the Army 
Political Schools as I saw them on the front. 

All Moscow was thrilled at that time over the exploits of 
Tukachevski, who was then starting his famous drive on 
Warsaw, and Budionny, the great cavalry leader in the Uk- 
raine. Both had had an equally meteoric rise, and from quite 
different origins. Tukachevski was a former Imperial officer, 
was taken prisoner by the Germans during the Great War, and 
spent over a year in a prison camp at Magdeburg, finally mak- 
ing his escape to Russia and offering his services to the Red 
Army. Budionny was a simple peasant who had been a cor- 
poral in the old army. He was retired from service and re- 
enlisted voluntarily to fight against the Whites, after return- 
ing to his home in the province of Tambov and finding that his 
father and two brothers had been murdered in the raid of 
Mamontov's cavalry. 

The young officers whom I saw on the day of their grad- 
uation were a rather fine looking lot. There were cavalry, ar- 
tillery, infantry and engineer officers among them. Their 
khaki uniforms were exceedingly smart and many of them 
were already wearing the new pointed cap with a large red 
star on the front, somewhat resembling the old German hel- 
met. Their oath of allegiance, which was read to them by 


Trotzki and subscribed to by every man present, standing at 
salute, was as follows: 

1. I, son of the working people, citizen of the Soviet Re- 
public, take upon myself the name of a warrior of the Workers' 
and Peasants' Army. 

2. Before the working classes of Russia and of the whole 
world I undertake to carry this name with honor, to follow the 
military calling with conscience and to preserve from damage 
and robbery the national and military possessions as the hair 
of my head. 

3. I pledge myself to submit strictly to revolutionary dis- 
cipline and to fulfill without objection every command issued 
by authority of the Workers' and Peasants' Government. 

4. I undertake to abstain from and to deter any act liable 
to dishonor the name of citizen of the Soviet Republic; more- 
over, to direct all my deeds and thoughts to the great aim of 
liberation of all workers. 

5. I pledge myself to the defense of the Soviet Republic 
in any danger of assault on the part of any of her enemies at 
the first call of the Workers' and Peasants' Government, and 
undertake not to spare myself in the struggle for the Russian 
Soviet Republic, for the aims of Socialism and the Brother- 
hood of Nations to the extent of my full strength and of my 

6. Should this promise be broken, let my fate be the scorn 
of my fellows. Let my punishment be the stern hand of 
revolutionary law. 

That the Bolsheviks intend to make Russia a nation of 
soldiers is shown by the fact that military training does not 
by any means begin with the attainment of the age for mili- 
tary service. The Boy Scout movement which is under the 
supervision of the remarkable organization known as the Com- 
munist Youth, is very widespread in Russia. Boys up to the 
age of sixteen combine physical and military training in these 
Scout organizations, and it was interesting to note that they 
had preserved the fleur de lis, the international symbol of the 
Boy Scouts, as their insignia. Boys from sixteen to eighteen 
also receive a certain amount of military training in the clubs 
of the Communist Youth, or, if they are industrial workers, 


in their factory organizations. There are a number of Girl 
Guides, corresponding to our Campfire Girls, and a few women 
are in the regular militia and the workers' reserve. 

The internal situation meanwhile was growing far from 
satisfactory. The Red Army drive on Warsaw, during which 
Tukachevski extended his army in a long narrow wedge reach- 
ing nearly to the German border, was recognized as an impos- 
sible tactical position. When the offensive was undertaken 
the government was counting on an immediate revolution in 
Poland. This idea was so firmly rooted in the minds of the 
Bolshevik leaders that, after taking Minsk, a Polish committee, 
headed by Djerzhinsky and Marklevski, were sent to the occu- 
pied territory and published a proclamation proclaiming Soviet 
government in Poland. It was expected that the army sup- 
ported by the peasants would mutiny and start a revolution. 
It turned out that the Communists were misinformed as to 
the strength of the revolutionary movement, and they miscal- 
culated in this respect, falling as far short of realizing the 
actual situation in Poland as they did that in Germany, when 
they signed the peace of Brest-Litovsk. 

After the failure of the Warsaw drive there was much dis- 
content in the army, stimulated by the reduction of the food 
rations, the lack of equipment, particularly in shoes, and the 
long drawn out armistice negotiations. In August there was 
a mutiny in the Moscow garrison, owing to the fact that straw 
slippers known as "lapiti" were given out to the soldiers instead 
of boots. Several regiments on the Western front held meet- 
ings and sent a delegation to Moscow to protest against the 
reduction in food rations. The delegation was arrested and 
several of the members shot, whereupon the front line regi- 
ments arrested their political commissars, threatening to hold 
them until their comrades in Moscow were released, and this 
was done. Mass desertions took place among regiments leav- 
ing for the front. One regiment passing through Moscow lost 
over five hundred men between that city and the front. Re- 
serve troops were not given rifles until they reached the front 
lines for fear they might start trouble en route. This state 


of affairs in the army is nothing new, however, and it was one 
of the difficulties that had to be contended with throughout 
the Great War. 

Wrangel was making some progress on the Crimean front 
and his raid in the direction of the Caucasus, while not suc- 
cessful, caused an unsettled condition in that part of the coun- 
try. Moscow seethed with plots of all descriptions. One day 
in the Petrovka several armed men in an automobile held up 
a government truck which was transporting three hundred 
million roubles and got away with their booty. The money 
was afterwards recovered in a rather curious manner. Some 
children in one of the suburbs of Moscow were holding the 
funeral of a pet cat and started to dig the grave on a vacant 
lot a short distance from their home. They chose a spot 
which looked as if someone had been digging there a short 
time before. About a foot underneath the surface they struck 
something hard. "Hidden treasure," they said, and began to 
dig harder than ever. It was indeed hidden treasure, for it 
proved to be the entire sum which had evidently been placed 
there during the night by the bandits for temporary safe keep- 
ing. The Soviet authorities gave it out that this robbery was 
political in character and had been committed by the Social 
Revolutionaries for the purpose of securing funds for party 

As the weather was very warm, we often had tea parties 
in the garden at the Horitonevsky. One Sunday afternoon at 
about six o'clock, as we were peacefully sipping tea, we were 
startled by a series of terrific explosions, developing into what 
sounded like a regular bombardment. The large plate glass 
windows in our house rattled like castanets, a dense cloud of 
smoke could be seen to the northwest, and evil looking little 
white rings rose in the air bursting with a horrible noise. As 
the thing grew worse one of our windows went, then we could 
hear the sound of breaking glass in all directions. Evidently 
something terrible had happened. A few nervous individuals 
suggested that the Poles might be coming, for it was then well 
known that they had pushed some distance east of Minsk in 
the Beresina offensive, but we at once dismissed this idea as 


impossible. The telephone was temporarily out of commis- 
sion ; so, curiosity getting the better of us, although there was 
considerable danger in the streets from breaking glass and 
bits of cornices dislodged by the concussion, we started for the 
Foreign Office to find out what was the matter. On the way 
we met many frightened groups of people, and one or two 
who had been badly cut by pieces of broken glass. Wild ru- 
mors were current, chiefly of a Polish plot to blow up all Mos- 
cow. When we arrived at the Foreign Office we found that 
there had been an explosion at Hodinka, the large munition 
depot, about eight versts from the city. About fifty persons, 
chiefly guards, had been killed. Detachments of the militia 
had been sent to stop the resulting conflagration and prevent the 
explosion from spreading to a still larger depot, and the avia- 
tion station nearby. It was said frankly, that if the fire could 
not be stopped there would be serious danger to Moscow. 
Meanwhile the town was put under military law, and people 
warned to keep off the streets unless on urgent business. All 
that night the explosions continued and it was only by early 
morning that their decreasing frequency made us realize that 
the situation must be under control. The bombardment kept 
up at intervals until the afternoon of the next day. Hundreds 
of arrests were made in connection with the affair, which 
turned out to have been a Polish plot for which three Poles, 
three Russians and three Jews, were eventually executed. 


Anyone who imagines that the isolation of Russia from 
the rest of the world is anything more than a material isola- 
tion is very much mistaken. Moscow is probably today the 
most cosmopolitan city of Europe. I certainly found it so 
during the summer of 1920. The meeting of the Third In- 
ternational brought delegates from every part of the world, 
as well as hosts of sympathizers and foreign journalists. There 
were peace delegations, labor delegations, business men, repre- 
sentatives of oppressed nationalities and political minorities, 
propagandists, crooks and idealists from the four quarters of 
the globe. 

During the Latvian peace negotiations, wKicn took place 
in June, I met Yoffe, head of the Russian delegation. Yoffe 
is Russia's professional peace negotiator, having conducted 
the negotiations with Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. 
He is a Jew, short, thick set, bearded, with keen brown eyes 
and a rather prepossessing manner, and was a frequent visi- 
tor at our house, where his young daughter and his first wife 
from whom he had been divorced two years previously, were 
living. She and her daughter, who was just recovering from 
an attack of typhus, occupied the two best rooms and had all 
their meals served in their apartment. When they went out a 
motor always came for them. 

Madame Yoffe was beautifully dressed, she was very pretty, 
a wonderful musician and distinctly bourgeoise in manner and 
appearance. It was in her sitting room, where he came for 
tea practically every evening, that I had my talk with Yoffe. 
The fact that he had another wife in Petrograd did not in the 
least disturb their amicable relations. 

I found him very alert and intelligent, a born diplomatist. 
He was interested in all national questions and was par- 



ticularly enthusiastic about a proposition he had made on be- 
half of Russia at the Latvian conference for the cancellation 
of all war obligations and indemnities by the nations of the 
world. His ideas in this respect, he told me, exactly coincided 
with those of the English author, Mr. Keynes, whose book he 
had read with great interest, and he asked me what impres- 
sion it had produced in America. 

I saw a great deal of the members of the Latvian delega- 
tion which stopped at the Savoy where they had an entire floor 
to themselves. They had brought their own provisions and 
servants and had their meals served in their own dining room. 
Every day they were taken in a big motor bus to the home of 
Horitonev, the sugar king, on the Sofiskaya Naberezhnaya, 
where the peace parleys were held. At night they were fre- 
quently the guests of the Foreign Office at the theater or the 
opera, but none of them was allowed to walk in the streets or 
visit private homes. 

They could not receive any visitors unless the latter had 
special permission from the Foreign Office, and their callers 
were compelled to register in conformity with the regulations 
in force in all the government guest houses in Moscow. Every 
caller at these places must register with the soldier from the 
Checka who is on guard at the door, his name, address, occupa- 
tion and the nature of his business, and show his documents 
of identity or "permis de sejour." He surrenders these docu- 
ments on entering, receiving them on leaving the building, 
when the length of his stay is recorded opposite the informa- 
tion already furnished. These lists are turned in daily to the 
Checka and enable it to keep in touch with the activities of 
foreigners and the extent of their intercourse with Russians. 

Negotiations with Latvia dragged on for several months, 
the chief objects of discussion being the economic provisions 
of the treaty. Finally it was signed and the negotiations with 
Lithuania began. They were successfully concluded in a few 

Meanwhile other negotiations no less interesting than 
Yoffe's were going on. The Russian Government had openly 
espoused the cause of the Turkish nationalists in Anatolia and 


the notorious Djemal Pasha, accompanied by Halel Pasha and 
an effendi, arrived in Moscow to secure recognition of the 
Angora Government under Mustapha Kemal. 

I found Djemal a most charming person, frankly bour- 
geois and nationalistic in his ideas, and making no secret of 
his motives for seeking an alliance with Soviet Russia. 

"Aren't you afraid of the spread of Bolshevik propaganda 
in Asia Minor if you sign a treaty with the Soviet Govern- 
ment?" I asked him. 

"My dear lady," he said suavely, "if your house is on 
fire, do you ask the politics of the man who comes to help 
you put it out?" 

His one aim, open and avowed, was to secure assistance 
against the British controlled government at Constantinople, 
and he did not care on what terms he got it. As for the dan- 
ger of Bolshevist propaganda, he was counting on conservative 
Islam to take care of that. He was very careful to remove 
from my mind any idea that he was pro-German, claiming 
that the Turks were forced into the position of becoming allies 
of the Germans in the Great War; that after the war he and 
Enver and Talaat had wished to come to an understanding 
with England, but had been driven by British imperialism back 
into the arms of Germany. 

The Persian peace delegation arrived shortly after, then 
the Chinese, with a special train loaded with rice and tea, which 
they sold quite openly at speculative prices in Moscow, no 
doubt paying their expenses for the entire trip. At this time 
an agreement was concluded between the Soviet Government 
and the Peking Government, under which the latter was to 
operate the Eastern Chinese railroad, wherein the former 
Imperial Russian Government had a large interest. Simul- 
taneously, I believe, negotiations, less open in character, were 
going on with the Southern Chinese Government. 

Then there were the Boukharans to whom I have already 
referred, and the Khivans, who had about this time made a 
Soviet revolution to order. Later when the Khan of Khiva 
came to Moscow he was arrested and interned in the Andron- 
ovski camp, just why I was never able to discover. 


The delegate from Afghanistan was most picturesque, tall, 
slender, dark, with wonderful eyes, and he spoke English 
fairly well. One day I met him in the Savoy Hotel and he 
invited me to tea, whereupon he began what I presume was a 
typical Afghan courtship. This was the substance of our 
conversation : 

"You long in Moscow?" he asked. 

"Four months," I told him. 

"You got husband at home?" 


"You find a man here ?" 


"You young, and you look healthy, I got plenty wives in 
Afghanistan, but here it is very lonely. I don't want Russian 
woman — I always wanted English woman. We marry now, 
what you say? We stay married while I'm here or I take you 
back to Afghanistan. Fine country. You be first wife." 

All this time he was coming nearer and nearer with the 
most intense expression which did not take my fancy by any 
means. I told him I'd have to think it over until the next 
day, then made my escape as soon as I could. 

There were other delegates not as official, but just as Im- 
portant and more mysterious. For example. Dr. Mansur, an 
Indian nationalist of whom I have already spoken, who lived 
at the Savoy, lectured at the General Staff College in Moscow, 
and conducted courses in the Foreign Office school of Oriental 
languages. He was always busy receiving couriers and mys- 
terious individuals who came from Berlin and Tashkend where 
there was a Far Eastern Soviet propaganda center. Mansur 
was very intimate with Meyerhoeffer, who had stayed on in 
Russia after he was superseded by the official Austrian Mis- 
sion. He was a Moslem convert and a strong supporter of 
Pan-Islamism and was also in receipt of constant communica- 
tions from India, Asia Minor, Vienna and Berlin. 

The Sinn Feiners had their delegation and were often in 
conference with Soviet leaders. So also were the Korean na- 
tionalists whose leader, Pak, I knew very well. Mexico was 


represented by M. N. Roy, an East Indian, with a handsome 
Mexican wife. 

Besides the British Labor Delegation there was an official 
Italian Labor delegation, and I saw something of several of 
the members, among them Dugoni, one of the Serratists who 
were exceedingly unpopular with Moscow. At that time were 
laid the foundations for the open breach which later took place 
in the Italian Socialist party. Lenin was pressing the delega- 
tion to support a revolution in Italy ; the more moderate mem- 
bers represented to him the impossibility of attempting to in- 
augurate a Soviet regime in Italy without the assurance of the 
support of other countries. Italy, they said, had a supply of 
coal for three weeks, bread for a month, and raw materials 
for six weeks, and an attempt at revolution would only result 
in an economic blockade which would starve out Italy in a 
short time. In spite of these statements the abortive attempt 
to seize control of the factories by the Italian working men 
was made in the summer of 1920 at the instigation of Moscow. 

The Italians, like the British, lived at the Dyelavoi Dvor, 
formerly one of the best hotels in the city, which was reserved 
for Trades Union and Third International delegates. I was 
forbidden to go there, but I nevertheless was a frequent visitor 
and this did not help to make me popular with the authorities. 
The Italians brought all their own food, had macaroni and 
chianti every day. Like other foreign visitors who remain 
a short time they had no idea of the privations and difficulties 
of the ordinary citizen in Moscow. 

A German labor delegation was at the Savoy. The Ger- 
mans were all working men, mostly Communists and they had 
come to draw up a convention with the Soviet Government for 
mass colonization in Russia. Negotiations between them and 
the All Russian Council of Trades Unions dragged on for a 
long time without results. The Germans wished to take over 
control of entire factories with their own personnel and to es- 
tablish their own colonies. Russian living quarters did not 
suit them; they demanded the right to obtain building mate- 
rials, construct their own homes, run their own cooperatives, 
and to bring a certain amount of money into the country with 


them. All these demands were not agreed to by the Soviet 
authorities. Meanwhile they were quietly investigating condi- 
tions for themselves, and it was evident that, while thoroughly 
in sympathy with Communistic principles, their orderly Ger- 
man ideas, deeply rooted in tradition and strengthened by 
training, could not be adjusted to the life about them. 

One of them said to me : "It's all very fine for everyone 
to be a productive worker, but I consider that my wife who 
runs my home and bears my children is just as much of a 
productive worker as if she worked in an office or factory. I 
don't want her to go out to work. I don't want to eat in a 
public dining room ; I want her to stay home and cook for me. 
It may be that I can buy just as good shirts at one of the gov- 
ernment stores as she makes, but she's always made my shirts 
and I like the way she makes them. It may be all right to 
have your socks mended and your suspender buttons sewed on 
at a cooperative mending shop, but I like the way she does 
it. I'm not a religious man, but I want to have my children 
left free in matters of religion. I don't want them taught 
Atheism any more than I want them taught Catholicism or 

This was the attitude of most of the Germans and, owing 
to this as well as political and economic reasons, the German 
scheme for mass colonization was temporarily, at least, aban- 

For a time Cachin and Froissard, the French Communist 
delegates, stayed at my guest house, and while they were 
there it served as a rendezvous for all the French Communists 
in Moscow. Among them was Jacques Sadoul, who had come 
up from Kharkov, where he was stationed as military adviser 
for the Ukrainian Government. I suppose there has been more 
speculation about the attitude of Sadoul towards the Soviet 
government than any of the other foreign Communists in 
Russia. He was attached to the French Military Mission, in 
Russia during the Great War. At the time of the March Rev- 
olution he declared himself in favor of the revolutionists and 
afterwards went over to the Bolsheviks. In his absence he 
was tried and condemned to death by a military court martial 


in France, and of course, whatever his convictions, he has 
burned his bridges and can never return to his own country 
unless there is a revokition. 

Sadoui is, in appearance, a most attractive person. He is 
short, rather thick set, blond, with a ruddy complexion, with 
clear blue eyes, rather the Norman type. In conversation he 
is very animated, and extremely genial. He struck me as being 
thoroughly happy, absolutely at ease in his strange surround- 
ings. He was dressed, when I saw him, in a knickerbocker 
suit of English tweeds, with woolen golf stockings, and smart 
brown shoes that betokened a rather fastidious care of ap- 
pearances. He was more interested in hearing from the 
Frenchmen all about the latest happenings in Paris, even down 
to what was playing at the theaters, than in talking politics. 
With regard to Russia he expressed himself as convinced that 
Communism of the military stamp was the only force which 
could keep the country from lapsing into chaos. 

His wife, who had arrived from Paris with his brother, 
some weeks before, was a Parisienne to her finger tips, beau- 
tifully dressed and seemed decidedly out of place in her sur- 
roundings. She impressed me as being Communistic rather 
out of loyalty to her husband than from personal convictions 
and complained bitterly of the persecutions she had been sub- 
jected to in Paris on his account. Monsieur Sadoui, the 
brother, reminded me more of a floor walker from the Bon 
Marche than anything else. He was a timid, delicate looking 
little man, and was the only person I saw in Russia who 
wore a frock coat and stiff collar. Black bread and kasha dis- 
agreed with him ; he was evidently bewildered and not a little 
frightened by the strange new forces with which he found him- 
self in contact, and I think he heartily wished he was back on 
the Boulevard Raspail, talking about Socialism in a cafe. 

Rene Marchand, who is one of the ablest French publicists 
in Russia, gave me quite a different impression from that 
which I received from Sadoui. For some years before the 
Revolution he was correspondent for the Paris Temps in 
Petrograd ; he also was mysteriously converted, publishing his 
declaration of faith in a rather remarkable pamphlet entitled 


"Why I rallied to the formula of the Social Revolution." He 
is a tall, dark, distinguished looking man, who says very little 
and appears at times to be suffering under a great nervous 
strain. He lives simply and very poorly with his wife and 
children, at the former Hotel Metropole, works very hard, and 
sees few visitors. Judging purely from superficial indications 
I would be inclined to believe the gossip current in certain 
circles which has it that Marchand's conversion to Commu- 
nism was due to pressure rather than to conviction. 

Pascal, the Frenchman who writes the "letters" that are 
sent out periodically by Soviet radio describing social, political 
and economic conditions in Russia, is a suave, exceedingly 
agreeable man. He was formerly a priest, more lately member 
of the French Military Mission to Petrograd, and is now a 
Communist. Strange to say, he has remained a stanch Cath- 
olic and goes to mass every Sunday. 

The most energetic and able of the French Communists in 
Russia is Henri Guilbeaux. He has rather an interesting his- 
tory. During the war he was on the staff of a French news- 
paper, and took part in the Zimmerwaldian movement, attend- 
ing the congress. For this and for alleged treasonable corre- 
spondence with German Socialists, charges were preferred 
against him and he was compelled to leave France. He re- 
mained for some time in Switzerland and then drifted to 
Russia. He is an occasional correspondent of UHumanite, Le 
Populaire, and other French Socialist papers. He is always 
chosen by the Soviet Government to show around distinguished 
French-speaking Socialist visitors. He is extremely cultivated, 
being an author of some distinction, very witty, and an able 

One of the most picturesque delegates to the International 
was the veteran German Revolutionary, Clara Zetkin, She is 
a fat little German Hausfrau in appearance, and always wears 
a black silk dress, with a lace collar and a large cameo brooch. 
Her cheeks are as ruddy as winter apples and her gray hair 
is parted and drawn to a demure little knot at the back of her 
head. In spite of her seventy-six years her speaking voice is 


wonderfully clear and she is just as full of revolutionary fire 
and spirit as if she were sixteen, instead of seventy-six. 

I also saw something of Belin and Stoklitski, American 
delegates to the International. Belin was a quiet, unassuming 
man with a rather attractive personality. I was told that he 
was a Norwegian by birth. It seemed to me, judging from his 
conversation, that he was giving the Soviet authorities a rather 
exaggerated idea of the importance of the Communist move- 
ment in America. McLean and Quelch, two of the English 
Communists, were very alert, intelligent men. Most of the 
other Anglo-Saxon delegates whom I met were either natural- 
ized Russian Jews, or immature youths, who seemed to regard 
Communism rather in the light of a great adventure. All the 
delegates made a sort of club house of the headquarters of the 
Third International in the Dyeneshni Pereoulak, formerly the 
home of Count Mirbach, the German Ambassador, who was 
assassinated in 1918. I was never allowed to set foot within 
its sacred precincts. 

I did not meet Zinoviev, the chairman of the Congress, 
but I frequently heard him speak at meetings. He is a rug- 
ged, unprepossessing looking individual of a distinctly Jewish 
type, with an extremely forceful, dominating personality. It 
is this quality which has given him his present position. Zino- 
viev is not popular either among his colleagues or among the 
working classes. Several times during the summer at meet- 
ings in Petrograd he was hooted down by factory workmen. 
Once he appeared at a meeting wearing one of the black 
leather coats that are much affected by the Red Army men 
and commissars. He spoke of the fact that it was necessary 
for the workers to make great sacrifices to assure the prosper- 
ity of the Soviet Republic. "Suppose the fellow in the 
leather jacket sets us the example," shouted a voice in the 

Among the foreign visitors at my guest house at this time 
was a Hungarian journaHst named Holitscher. He was a 
very delightful person ; sympathetic, but not blind to the flaws 
in the Soviet Government; more of a literary man than a poli- 
tician. Through him I met Dr. Varga, formerly Commissar 


of Education in the short-lived Hungarian Communist ex- 
periment. He was a dark, intense Httle man, one of those to 
whom Marxism is a cult, but apart from his fanaticism he was 
a man of broad general culture, quite different from Bela Kun, 
whom I saw very often. The latter impressed me as being a 
decidedly coarse, materialistic person, very much of an oppor- 

There were also several French correspondents and two 
Italians, Dodone of the Corriere delta Sera, and Panunzio of 
the Socialist paper Avanti. Dodone, who was formerly an 
Italian officer, was under house arrest during his entire stay 
which was limited to the prescribed two weeks for correspond- 
ents. Panunzio stayed longer and his visit terminated in a 
rather unpleasant experience. At the time of the Polish armi- 
stice negotiations at Minsk he went with several other cor- 
respondents to attend the conference, intending, so he told me, 
to go directly from Minsk to Petrograd and leave the country. 

About four weeks afterwards I was startled to see Panun- 
zio appear in my room one morning, haggard, dirty, collar- 
less and with a scraggly beard. He told me that he had been 
arrested in Minsk by the Checka without a word of explana- 
tion, and brought back to Moscow, where he was imprisoned 
for three weeks in the Lubianka 2, accused, much to his amaze- 
ment, of espionage. He was not allowed to communicate with 
any of his Socialist friends, and would probably have been 
there indefinitely, except for the fact that his interpreter, to 
whom he had promised to write from Petrograd on a matter 
of business, grew suspicious and reported her fears to the 
members of the Italian Socialist Delegation then in Moscow, 
with the result that explanations were forthcoming and Pan- 
unzio was set at liberty. It seemed that, while he was in 
Minsk the Avanti had published a despatch with Moscow date 
line in which were given statistics and information as to 
strength, equipment, distribution and morale of the Red Army. 
Although it was not signed and it was proved later to have 
been written by the Riga correspondent of the paper, Panun- 
zio was suspected of being the author. It was thought that 


he had illegal means of sending correspondence out of Russia 
and he was detained on suspicion. 

One day I went with Beach and Turner, two representa- 
tives of the English shop stewards, to meet two members of 
the Executive Committee of the Right Social Revolutionaries. 
These men were wanted by the Bolshevik authorities, so there 
was considerable mystery about it. We met by appointment 
in one of the squares in Moscow a Jewish gentleman, profes- 
sedly a Menshevik, and formerly the correspondent of the 
United Telegraph Company in Petrograd. In view of what 
happened later and of several other circumstances I am in- 
clined to think he was playing quite another role, and was prob- 
ably an agent of the Extraordinary Commission, 

We accompanied him for several blocks, when he disap- 
peared, after telling us to follow a young lady in a blue head 
kerchief who was strolling apparently unconcernedly up the 
street. Presently she disappeared inside of an arched door- 
way. We did the same, following at a safe distance. Once 
inside of the hallway at the back of the court, she turned to 
us, and told us that she would take us to an apartment upstairs, 
where we would meet our men. I acted as interpreter for the 
Britishers, during our half hour talk, after which they were 
obliged to leave and I stayed on for a cup of tea with the two 
Russians and our hostess, a teacher in the apartment which 
was used as a kindergarten. When I left I found two soldiers 
armed with rifles in the hall. 

"Where did you come from?" they asked. I told them. 

"Well, you must go back and stay," said one of them. 
"There is a raid of the Checka on and no one will be allowed 
to leave the building." 

Meanwhile anyone was allowed to enter; perfectly inno- 
cent people calling on their friends were detained pending a 
room to room search. I went back to my friends, and found 
that the two Social Revolutionaries had disappeared as if by 
magic. The teacher, evidently very much alarmed, was still 
there, so we sat down and decided to make the best of it. 

In a few minutes two soldiers accompanied by a civil 
agent of the Checka and the Chairman of the Housing Com- 


mittce appeared and searched the apartment from end to end. 
Not a drawer was left unopened, not a paper escaped scrutiny, 
and they even went through the children's work and kinder- 
garten material. Pictures were taken off the wall and exam- 
ined, mattresses and pillows felt for concealed papers or docu- 
ments; not a nook or cranny was left uninspected. Unfor- 
tunately some compromising papers were found in the teach- 
er's desk and at the same moment her husband arrived most 
inopportunely. They were both arrested and taken away to 
the Checka. 

Meanwhile I was told that I would be obliged to remain in 
the apartment until they had searched the whole building. 
Seeing that I was a foreigner, the chairman of the Housing 
Committee, a Lett who spoke German exceedingly well, tried 
to make matters as pleasant as possible for me. He asked his 
wife down, brought in the inevitable samovar, and invited me 
to have a cup of tea with bread and butter. It was then about 
ten o'clock and I had been there since six. After the search 
was completed the Checkists retired, leaving a soldier on guard 
to see that no one left the apartment. He sat there motion- 
less with his rifle between his knees, while my host and I 
talked in German. In a few minutes I strolled over to the 
piano and began to pick out the melodies of a few Russian 
folk songs. 

Up to this time he had been perfectly stolid and uninter- 
ested in the proceedings, then suddenly his whole expression 

"Fraiilein," he said, in excellent German, "you speak Ger- 
man almost like a native. Have you lived in the Fatherland ?" 

I told him that I had spent much time in Germany. He 
hesitated. "Perhaps you could sing me a German song, just 
one," he begged. 

"Yes, indeed," I answered, and sitting at the piano I sang 
one after another, a number of the homely German folk 
songs that are known to all the people, "Du, du liegst mir im 
Herzen," "Ach, du lieber Augustin," "Ich hatt' einen Kam- 
eraden," and several others. He sat there spellbound and 
presently I noticed great tears, one after another, rolling down 


his lined cheeks. When I finished, for a few minutes he was 
unable to speak, then he said, quite simply: 

"Thank you, Fraiilein, you have made me happier than I 
have been for six long years." 

After that, little by little, the whole story came out. He 
was a German prisoner of war who had been captured during 
the Russian drive in East Prussia, in the summer of 1914. 
For five years he had been kept in prison camps or in the 
villages at compulsory labor, then he had given up hopes of 
ever getting back to the Fatherland again and had taken 
service with the Checka, because, as he told me, he got better 
food and pay there than anywhere else. He had renounced 
his German citizenship just before the arrival of the German 
Repatriation Mission, his bridges were burned, he could never 
return to Germany, where he had a wife and three little chil- 
dren. Such instances among foreign nationals are not un- 
common in Russia; they are part of the tragic aftermath of 
the Great War. I talked with my Latvian friends for several 
hours and it was two o'clock before the raid was over and I 
was allowed to go home. 


It was pretty hot in the dog days, and I was delighted 
when I received an invitation from some American friends, 
Mr. Hopwood, formerly manager of the Kodak Company, 
and his two daughters, to spend a week-end in the country. 
We stayed in the house of an old peasant woman, a widow, 
whose son had been killed in the Great War, and who lived 
alone with her little grandchild. She belonged to the upper 
class of peasants, the Koulaks, who have always owned their 
own land, and are still quite prosperous, representing the peas- 
ant bourgeoisie. In consequence they are much detested by 
the Communists, and they are rankly counter-revolutionary. 

She had, until recently, made a very good living out of her 
cows and her small market garden, but the former had been 
requisitioned, only one being left her on account of the small 
boy who had to have milk. She was no longer able to work 
herself, she informed me, and owing to the tremendous de- 
crease of man power in the village, due to conscription and 
the number of peasants who had gone to the city as industrial 
workers, she had been unable to plant but a small part of her 
property. She gave us fresh eggs, a little milk, and some 
black bread. We supplied salt, sugar and real tea, much to 
her delight, for she had not tasted the last named for more 
than two years. She told us that the peasants in the village 
were bitterly discontented over the requisitions made by the 

Each man had been compelled to furnish a certain number 
of poods of potatoes in proportion to the amount of acreage 
he had under cultivation. If he did not happen to have raised 
potatoes he was obliged to exchange something he had raised 
with his neighbors for potatoes, and furnish the required 
amount. The hay crop was poor; even there in the country 



hay cost twelve thousand roubles a bale, and peasants who had 
had a poor harvest were compelled to buy hay for their horses 
and cattle. In many cases they were killing them, selling the 
meat on the open market rather than do this. She told me 
that all the peasants said there would soon be another revolu- 
tion. As to where this revolution was coming from, how it 
was to be brought about, or what was to be their part in it, 
they had not the faintest idea. That seemed to me to be the 
weak point in all the opposition to the Soviet Government. 
Everybody was discontented, everybody expected the Soviet 
Government would be overthrown, but every man thought the 
other fellow was going to do it. 

The sun was blazing hot and we were tired and dirty when 
we arrived at our destination on Saturday afternoon. We 
had walked at least ten versts from the station, and the yil- 
lage was situated near the Moskva River, which looked very- 
cool and tempting. 

"Let's go in bathing," said my companions. 

'T'd like to," I answered, "but I have no bathing suit." 

"That makes no difference," they answered. "Nobody 
wears a bathing suit in Russia. Come down to the river and 
see for yourself." 

When I got there I saw the most startling sight I have ever 
witnessed. At this point the river made a sharp turn, throw- 
ing up a bank of fine white sand which made an ideal beach. 
On the beach and in the water beyond were hundreds of 
naked people, men, women, boys and girls, all indiscriminately 
mingled. Some were standing knee-deep in the water chatting 
with their neighbors, others taking a sun bath, quite undis- 
turbed; no one seemed in the least self-conscious or concerned. 

"If it's the custom of the country, I suppose I can do it, 
too," I said, "but let's go a little further up the beach." So 
we withdrew to a slightly secluded spot, where we undressed, 
leaving our clothes on the bank in charge of the father of 
my two friends. They laughed at me because, as a vestige 
of Anglo-Saxon prudery, I kept on my hat until the last, but 
after the first agonized moment I quite forgot my embarrass- 
ment and never enjoyed a swim more in my life. 


This utter absence of conventionality or self-consciousness 
was to me one of the most delightful things about the Rus- 
sians. They act and dress exactly as they please on all occa- 
sions. In the streets in Moscow you see long-haired men, and 
short-haired women, girls without stockings, and on some 
occasions wearing men's clothes, while the men wear anything 
that suits their fancy. The regular summer costume of the 
un-Europeanized Russian is a pair of loose trousers, of linen 
or cloth tucked into high, soft boots, a linen or pongee blouse, 
often beautifully embroidered in cross-stitch with bright colors, 
buttoning on the side with a high standing collar, worn out- 
side the trousers. It is sometimes held in by a narrow leather 
belt, but more often by a bright colored knotted cotton cord 
with tassels. 

Once, outside of the University of Moscow, I saw a dis- 
tinguished professor talking to a friend. He had bare feet, 
wore long linen trousers, a Russian blouse, widely open at the 
throat, with flowing sleeves. A black opera cape was thrown 
back negligently over his shoulders. On his head he wore a 
small round skull cap embroidered in brilliant colors. He was 
perfectly unconscious of the fact that his attire was at all un- 
usual. Of course, the scarcity of clothing has something tQ 
do with these eccentricities, but the Russians have always done 
as they pleased in respect to such matters. 

We spent the night with our peasant friend, sleeping on 
her little wooden porch on huge feather beds, which she pro- 
vided for us, and in the morning we paid a visit to an old 
Russian priest and to two children's summer colonies in the 

The priest lived in a four room wooden house like most 
of those in the village, with a large glass enclosed porch. He 
wore a faded brown cassock with the enormously long sleeves 
and corded girdle which is the traditional costume of the 
Sviaschcnnik. His small, pig-like blue eyes squinted slightly 
when they looked at you; he had a monumental beard and 
a very red nose, which suggested that in the old days at least 
he had not been unacquainted with vodka and probably yet had 
a reserve tucked away somewhere. He owned a small piece 


of land on which he had a flourishing market garden where he 
raised his own tobacco, a number of beehives and a fine lot 
of chickens. 

His shock-headed children, eight in number, helped him 
work the garden, and altogether it struck me that he was 
probably living very much as he had before the Revolution. 
He sold us ten pounds of honey at an enormous price — 4000 
roubles a pound — but, as he assured us, it was very fine honey. 
I found him densely ignorant, bjirely able to read and write. 
He knew nothing about his parishioners, and they cared 
nothing for him, and contributed nothing towards his main- 
tenance except the fees he exacted for burials, christenings 
and marriages. As a specimen of the old fashioned country 
priest he was very interesting and I could easily see how he 
and his kind would rouse prejudice against the church in the 
minds of the more enlightened classes among the population. 

While we were walking from the village of Strogonov, 
where we had spent the night, to Troiki, several versts away, 
where we expected to visit a model children's colony, we had 
an experience which was particularly illuminating. It was 
Sunday, and along the road we met many groups of peasants, 
bearded, stalwart men loafing and smoking mahorka, rolled 
in newspaper, healthy looking peasant girls, mostly barefoot 
with bright colored handkerchiefs tied on their heads. As we 
passed, most of them stared at us in a distinctly unfriendly 
manner, and two or three times we were greeted with cries 
of Jgid. At first I was bewildered and my friend Mr. Hop- 
wood explained. 

"They think w'e're Jews," he said, "because we evidently 
come from the city, and are well-dressed. All the peasants 
hate the Jews." 

The children's colony we had come to visit was a beautiful 
old house, which had formerly belonged to the Karsenkins, who 
were among the merchant princes of old Moscow. It was run 
by the Commissariat of Public Health, under the direct super- 
vision of Madame Semashko, wife of the Commissar. Ma- 
dame Kamenev, wife of the Chairman of the Moscow Soviet, 
was also a member of the Board of Control. The house was 


situated in the midst of a fine park, with the remains of a beau- 
tiful flower garden, on a high bluff overlooking the river, and 
there was a large vegetable garden from which the colony drew 
most of its supplies. They had five cows and several horses. 

The children's quarters were very clean and comfortable. 
The superintendent was a most intelligent Jewish woman, not 
by any means a Communist, but she was tremendously inter- 
ested in the educational and cultural side of the work of the 
Soviet Government. The older girls were busily sewing on 
costumes for a little play that was to be given the following 
week. They all looked healthy and happy, and there seemed 
to be excellent discipline. Dinner was served at noon and con- 
sisted of a thick soup, followed by boiled beef tongue, with 
mashed potatoes, stewed fruit and white rolls. The older 
children had tea and the younger children each a big cup of 

 In the grounds of the Karsenkin estate was the family 
mausoleum. It was a small white wooden building, rectangu- 
lar in shape, the long sides being composed almost entirely 
of glass. Entrance was through a narrow passage, on one 
side of which was a kitchenette furnished with samovar and 
cooking utensils, on the other a small pantry, still stocked with 
fine porcelain. This passage opened into the main room, bright 
and sunny with growing plants on the sills of the large 
windows. It was carpeted with light brown velvet and con- 
tained luxurious arm chairs, a big sofa and a table on which 
were still lying some Russian periodicals of three years past. 
At the further end of the room were eight graves, covered 
with growing ivy, each with a large stone cross at the head, 
on the arms of which were hung the Easter eggs which the 
Russians are in the habit of bringing to their dead at Easter. 

It had been the custom of the Karsenkins to come fre- 
quently to the mausoleum, probably on all church holidays and 
on the name days of their dead. They spent the day sitting 
in the comfortable arm chairs, chatting, reading and drinking 
tea. To my Western mind it seemed at first a rather grue- 
some idea, but in the final analysis there was really something 
beautiful about it. To these people the dead were no less real 


than the living; it was their way of bridging the gulf between 
the seen and the unseen world. 

In the afternoon we paid a visit to another children's col- 
ony run by the municipality of Moscow. It was situated in 
one of the "Dacha" settlements where the small merchants of 
Moscow in the old days had cottage colonies where they spent 
the summer months. There were about sixty children living 
in five or six cottages, which of course had been taken from 
their former owners. They were clean and well run, but there 
was a marked difference in the physical condition of these 
children from those I had seen at the first colony. The ex- 
planation was simple — they were living on the regular ration 
assigned by the Commissary of Education, which runs the 
ordinary colonies. Their dinner was thin soup and kasha with 
black bread. For the sixty children, most of whom were be- 
low nine years of age, only twenty glasses of milk a day were 
provided. The other colony received the same allowance, but 
it was supplemented by the private contributions and resources 
of the wives of the commissars whose children were among 
its members. 

I had another delightful midsummer outing at the "Nye- 
skouchni Sad," Sans Souci Park, a beautiful country seat on 
the Moskva, which was a gift of Catherine the Great to one of 
her favorites, Prince Orlov. The palace, a handsome building 
in the late eighteenth century style, was being transformed into 
a historical museum of Russian furniture under the supervi- 
sion of a Russian nobleman, who had formerly collected such 
things as an amateur. The park surrounding the palace, 
though terribly neglected, is still a beautiful specimen of land- 
scape architecture. There are charming vistas, apparently 
natural waterfalls, deep green pools with overhanging birches 
and a background of dark evergreens, small Doric temples in 
unexpected spots, their stone steps green with moss. The 
very decay of the grass-grown drives and winding paths makes 
them still lovelier. Here one Saturday afternoon I was a 
meml^er of a picnic party with General Brusilov, his wife and 
daughter. General Polivanov, Minister of War under the Czar 
and later under Kerensky, and a number of other Russians 


of the old regime. We walked until we were tired through 
the grounds, and then adjourned to the janitor's house where 
we had tea on an upstairs veranda with a beautiful view of 
the river, beyond which was Moscow with its hundreds of 
gilded domes and cross-crowned minarets. 

The janitor had been a soldier in one of General Brusilov's 
regiments. He still saluted when he addressed his former 
commander, calling him "My General," and his wife brought 
in the samovar with which we made our tea ; and the cups were 
of rare old Russian porcelain of the eighteenth century. Each 
of us brought a contribution for our supper, which consisted of 
white bread and cream cheese, cold ham, butter, tea, honey, and 
small cakes. The conversation was mostly of the old days. 
General Brusilov indulged in reminiscences about his Galician 
campaign; Polivanov told incidents of official life in Petrograd. 
With such company, and in such surroundings, it was hard to 
believe that I was in Soviet Russia. 

Finally our talk drifted to present day matters and I was 
interested to learn that Polivanov shared the ideas of Brusilov 
with regard to the Soviet Government. Like him, he believed 
that ill advised intervention had done more to strengthen the 
Bolsheviks than anything else. He believed that the Revolu- 
tion would run an evolutionary course, that the Communists 
were, for the moment, the only party which could govern the 
country, preserve order, and keep the administrative machine 
functioning. Any radical change, he felt, must come from 
within rather than from without the country if it was to be 
permanent. The establishment of a new oligarchy, backed by 
foreign powers would, he was convinced, only plunge Russia 
into a new civil war, and the idea of foreign influence or in- 
tervention in any form was repugnant to his sturdy nationalism. 
Therefore he was one of the thousands of Bez Partini who 
were willing to work with the Soviet Government. Later he 
accepted a post on the Commission sent to Riga to negotiate 
peace with Poland, and died there shortly after his arrival. 
There were wild rumors current in Moscow that he had been 
poisoned by Russian Counter-Revolutionaries who regarded 


him as a traitor, but I never heard anything to substantiate 
these reports. 

The parks and boulevards were always crowded during 
the long summer afternoons and evenings, for during June 
and July it is only dark for two or three hours and the people 
live in the streets nearly all night. In the parks there were 
numbers of open air concerts ; on the boulevards were all sorts 
of amusements, fortune tellers, photographers who took your 
picture while you waited, jugglers, venders of kvass and 
lemonade and itinerant musicians. One of the last named was 
a most picturesque figure. He was an old man with a long 
white beard, and no matter how hot the weather he always 
wore a winter overcoat that reached to his heels. Every eve- 
ning he played the flute in one of the open squares. When he 
had collected a large crowd, mostly children, he placed himself 
at the head of an impromptu procession and wound fantastic- 
ally in and out among the paths, playing weird melodies like 
an antiquated Pied Piper. Just across from the Foreign Office 
under the walls of the Kitai Gorod (the Chinese city), was 
a small garden and there, in the long summer nights another 
musician gave concerts for all who cared to hear. Sitting in 
the window sill in the office of the Western section, waiting for 
war news and political bulletins, I passed some of the few 
restful moments of my stay in Moscow, transported to another 
world on wings of song, peaceful, immutable and serene. The 
performer was a little gray nightingale. 


During the summer the repatriation of prisoners of war 
which had been begun some months before by the arrival of 
the German Mission was given an impetus by the arrival of 
Czecho-Slovak and Austrian Missions and of Fridtj of Nan- 
sen, the great Arctic explorer, who came to arrange for the 
repatriation of nationals whose countries had no official inter- 
course with Russia on behalf of an International Committee 
working under the auspices of the Red Cross. 

The German Mission, headed by a man named Hilger, was 
managed with true Teutonic efficiency. The Germans were 
the first in the field, and by the spring of 1920 they had suc- 
ceeded in repatriating most of their nationals. On arriving in 
Moscow they regained possession of the former German con- 
sulate practically intact, also another building which was 
used as a home for destitute or invalid German soldiers. They 
purchased rations to feed their prisoners from Soviet stores 
at Soviet prices, and even got back the three original automo- 
biles which had been in the possession of the German Mission 
before the assassination of Mirbach. Mr. Hilger, who was 
an extremely clever man and a born diplomatist, succeeded in 
establishing excellent relations with the Foreign Office and 
also with the German Soviet, for every foreign country has its 
own Soviet in Moscow. By tactful management he was able 
to overcome the prejudice of the German Soviet against offi- 
cers. Other Missions had great difficulties with their Soviets 
in this respect. In order to secure places in repatriation eche- 
lons prisoners of war must have their papers vised by the 
Soviet of the country to which they belong and this body in- 
variably gives the preference to enlisted men, holding back 
officers as long as possible. 



Mr. Hilger's activities were not entirely confined to repatri- 
ation, for he was also acting as the unofficial commercial 
agent of Germany and through him contracts were signed with 
the Soviet Government for the importation of large quantities 
of chemicals, drugs, medicines, surgical supplies, farm imple- 
ments and tools. 

The Czecho-Slovak Mission arrived in June and lived at 
my guest house. The chief was Mr. Skala, a former officer 
in the Czecho-Slovak Army in France; his wife, who acted 
as secretary to the Mission, was an American girl born in 
Chicago, of Czecho-Slovak parents, who had gone to Europe in 
191 5 as a member of the Serbian Unit of the American Red 
Cross. We became great friends, and she was of considerable 
assistance to me in carrying on the work I undertook later for 
the American prisoners. 

The problem of the Czechs was a particularly difficult one. 
They were saddled with the work of repatriating about thirty- 
five thousand Czecho-Slovaks who had been captured in Siberia 
during the Kolchak retreat. These men were scattered 
throughout Western Siberia, Southeastern Russia and Turke- 
stan; some were in internment camps, others had been allowed 
to settle in the villages where they had gone to work; many had 
died or simply disappeared. It was a tremendous task to lo- 
cate all these men, to secure transportation to Moscow, and 
finally to organize the echelons which left for Reval twice 
a week. 

The Russian organization through which the problem of 
repatriation was handled was the Centro-Evak of which a Lett 
named Eiduk was chairman. Every foreigner who has been 
resident in Russia, whether a civilian or prisoner of war, must 
receive his permit to leave the country through the Centro- 
Evak and this permit must have the vise of the Foreign Office 
and of the Checka. Foreign nationals arriving in Moscow 
from distant points in Russia are housed in enormous con- 
centration points pending their departure where they are sup- 
plied with rations and given a place to sleep. 

I visited one of these concentration points near the Nikolai 
station with Madame Skala. It had formerly been an alms- 


house, and was packed from garret to cellar with a swarming 
mass of humanity of various nationalities, Letts, Esthonians, 
Lithuanians, Poles, Italians, Greeks, Rumanians, Ukrainians 
and many others. 

The Czecho-Slovaks were assigned special quarters where 
they were fairly comfortable, but the other nationalities were 
packed in helter-skelter, men, women, and children together 
with their filthy, nondescript baggage. I talked to a number 
of the Czechs, many of whom had heard nothing from their 
families for four or five years. In the hospital ward were 
numbers of men from Turkestan, desperately ill with malaria. 

In one bed was an elderly man in a pitiable mental as well 
as physical condition. He was a Baron, but on his arrival in 
Moscow he had registered at the Czecho-Slovak Soviet under 
his Christian and family names without stating his former 
rank, thinking, very rightly, that as titles are not recognized 
at present in Czecho-Slovakia, it was not of the slightest im- 
portance. His family name was well known, however, and 
the zealous Czech Communists hunted him up in the Almanach 
de Gotha, and accused him of some deep counter-revolutionary 
design in thus concealing his rank. Only his extreme physical 
weakness and the energetic intervention of Mr. Skala saved 
him from being sent to prison. 

At the Centro-Evak concentration point the most pictur- 
esque inhabitants were the gypsies, large numbers of whom 
had been conscripted in the Austrian and Hungarian armies. 
They absolutely refused to live in the buildings, and had built 
themselves shelters of boards, scraps of old tin roofing, and 
blankets stretched on poles in the yard, where they bivouacked 
and did their own cooking. The Hungarians were in a par- 
ticularly unfortunate situation. The counter-revolutionary 
government which followed the Hungarian Commune was 
intensely hated by the Soviet Government and there was no- 
body to represent their interests. The Austrians fared better 
and the repatriation of Austrian nationals was conducted in a 
fairly orderly manner. 

I saw a great deal of Nansen during his visit to Moscow, 
as he stayed in our guest house at the Horitonevski. He was 


not allowed to bring his own secretary, as he was a Russian, 
and during his ten days' stay I acted as his secretary. The 
Russians who have a tremendous respect for intellectual 
attainment admired Nansen greatly as a scientist, but they gave 
him little encouragement on the diplomatic end of his mission, 
and I think he was rather disheartened by the result of his 
first visit. He was interested in providing transportation from 
Reval of the foreign nationals whom the Soviet Government 
was willing to permit to leave the country, but whose govern- 
ments had not negotiated directly with Moscow on the subject. 
He had very up-hill work to ascertain the approximate number 
of these people in Russia and the transportation facilities which 
would be given by the Russian Government. During his stay 
he purposely avoided making any investigations or meddling 
in any way in politics, but he used to spend hours every day 
sitting in my room, talking about Russia and also about the 
United States. 

He speaks English beautifully and is very fond of America 
and Americans. His youngest daughter was at that time in 
New York, where she was studying singing. Nansen has 
changed very little since he was in the United States some 
years ago. In spite of his sixty-eight years his tall form is 
as erect as ever, his blue eyes are clear, his complexion fresh 
and ruddy. He gives the impression of tremendous physical 
and mental vigor. His innate conserv^atism was profoundly 
shocked by many things he saw and heard in Russia, but the 
humanitarian rather than the political side of the situation 
appealed to him. He went nowhere in Moscow, and did noth- 
ing except have frequent conferences with Foreign Office 

The Danish Red Cross, as a neutral organization, confined 
its efforts entirely to the repatriation of civilians. Its chief. 
Dr. Martini, also acted as unofficial commercial agent for 
Danish interests. 

The French Red Cross, which had no legal status, was in 
charge of Mademoiselle Charpentier, who cared for all the 
French hostages and political prisoners, including a number of 
officers of the French Mission who had been interned since the 


October Revolution. She had retained the French Red Cross 
headquarters on the Chistoprudni Boulevard and the French 
home in the Milyutinsky Pereoulak, securing her funds prac- 
tically unaided from members of the French colony in Moscow, 
many of whom were allowed to remain at liberty, though with- 
out- permission to leave the country, and from Russians, em- 
ploying much the same methods as those used by Mr. North. 
She was often very short of funds, however, and resorted to 
many expedients, one of which got her into trouble. She 
asked a number of people to contribute the little gold and 
silver medallions with images of the Virgin or the Saints that 
are worn around their necks by ma'ny Catholics, which she 
sold to obtain money to purchase food supplies. One day she 
was denounced as a speculator by a Polish woman to whom 
she had refused to give food, and was put in the Checka where 
she spent sixteen days, being finally released through the in- 
tervention of a liberal French journalist who happened to be in 
Moscow, and of the French Communists, who had not lost 
all their sympathy for their compatriots. 

Mademoiselle Charpentier, after the departure of Mr. 
North, undertook to provide for British prisoners. When I 
first met her she was also sending weekly food packages to 
Kalamatiano and Royal R. Keeley, the only Americans then 
known to be in prison in Russia, but this state of affairs did 
not last long. 

The arrest of Mr. Keeley as he was leaving the country in 
May was followed by that of half a dozen others among them 
Chabrow, who had come to Russia as correspondent of the 
Federated Press; Thomas Hazelwood, an American deserter 
from Vladivostok, who had worked his way across Siberia to 
Moscow; and Dr. Estes and Mr. Flick, the former a journalist, 
the latter a motion picture operator who had come from Reval 
with permission of the Soviet Government; Dr. Lamare, a man 
claiming American citizenship, who had lived for many years 
in Russia, and Albert Boni, an American publisher, who was 
arrested after having attended the session of the Third Inter- 
national on the invitation of Karl Radek. 

As I learned of the arrest of these people from time to 


time I interviewed the Danish and Czecho-Slovak Red Cross 
officials with regard to the possibiHty of providing for them 
in some way, but they dedined to take the matter up officially, 
as their agreements with the Soviet Government covered only 
their own nationals. Mademoiselle Charpentier was willing 
to undertake the work of supplying the Americans, but she had 
neither the time nor the funds, so I agreed to take them off 
her hands. 

Then began one of the most interesting though one of the 
most dangerous and physically tiring of all my experiences in 
Russia. From the end of June until the 20th of October, 
when I was myself arrested, I had from six to eight Americans 
on the list of those to whom weekly food packages must be 
sent. They were in the Butierki and Checka prisons and the 
Andronovski concentration camp. Through the kindness of 
the Czecho-Slovak Red Cross, I was able to send packages to 
the Butierki and the Andronovski, but those at the Checka I 
always delivered myself. Tuesday was the day for the Bu- 
tierki, Friday was receiving day at the other prisons. 

Every Monday and Thursday I went to the Soukharevka 
with several market baskets, and a big knapsack on my back, 
usually accompanied by Madame Skala, who prepared pack- 
ages for the Czecho-Slovak prisoners. There we bought our 
supplies, hired an isvostchik to take us back to the Horitonev- 
ski, and devoted the afternoon to cooking and preparing the 
food packages. I tried to vary the contents from week to 
week, but the average package was as follows : three pounds 
of black bread, a sixth of a pound of tea or coffee, a quarter 
of a pound of sugar, half a pound of butter or bacon, a small 
amount of cooked meat or sausage, a few hard boiled eggs 
or boiled potatoes, an earthenware bowl of baked beans, baked 
apples or boiled vegetables, cigarettes or tobacco, matches and 
once a month a cake of soap. 

To secure funds was a rather difficult matter. I exchanged 
the American money I had brought with me at illegal rates 
through the speculators in Moscow's illicit stock market. The 
Soviet Government had fixed a legal rate for exchange of for- 
eign currency, but it is so low that very few foreigners, even 



Socialists, chose to avail themselves of it. I was very much 
amused by the fact that several members of foreign Socialist 
delegations asked me to exchange their money for them at 
illegal rates. I also used money sent me by radio, by the As- 
sociated Press through the Soviet representatives in Copen- 
hagen, and sold some of my personal belongings. I had an 
amusing time getting rid of a leather jacket and breeches. 
The sale of leather is controlled by the Soviet Government, as 
leather is among the prime needs of the Red Army, but I sold 
mine to a Checkist for a very good sum, I also received con- 
tributions from Americans and other foreigners temporarily in 
Moscow, and through the Czecho-Slovaks I had fifty pounds 
of sugar, twenty pounds of coffee, a dozen bars of chocolate 
and a dozen cans of condensed milk from the American Red 
Cross in Reval. I always obtained receipts from the prisoners 
for the articles received and occasionally requests for clothing 
or toilet articles which I bought on the Soukharevka. 

On one occasion a prisoner asked for shoes, without stating 
the size. New shoes being utterly beyond my purse, I bought 
a pair of second hand shoes for twenty-six thousand roubles. 
To my horror they were returned to me the next day — they 
were too small. I had no money to purchase another pair, so 
there was nothing left for me to do, but to go on the Souk- 
harevka myself, sell my shoes and buy a second pair with the 
money I received. 

I went early in the morning and lined up in the shoe mar- 
ket, holding my goods in one hand, displayed to the public. 
Pretty soon a man came along and offered me fifteen thousand 
roubles. I told him that I would not sell for less than twenty- 
five thousand. Then another man offered me seventeen thou- 
sand. I held off for a higher price. Presently a small crowd 
began to gather, each man overbidding the other by a thousand 
roubles or so, until I was finally offered twenty-five thousand 
roubles which I accepted, when the first bidder offered me 

"I've already sold the shoes," I said. 

"That doesn't make any difference," he returned, "I'm 
offering you more." 


"That isn't the way we do business in America," I an- 
swered, whereupon he grabbed one of the shoes and I hit 
him over the head with the other. 

At this juncture I saw a mihtiaman sauntering up in the 
distance, and decided it was high time for me to disappear. I 
snatched the shoe from my opponent, thrust both into the hands 
of the man who had offered me twenty-five thousand roubles, 
grabbed the money and vanished into the crowd. After that I 
found a very good pair of larger shoes for twenty-four thou- 
sand roubles, so I came out even on the transaction. 

One day I received a message from Mademoiselle Char- 
pentier stating that it was necessary for her to see me at once 
on an important matter. I went immediately to the headquar- 
ters of the French Red Cross where I found her waiting for 
me with a tall, gaunt Jugo-Slav from the Koschukovski prison 
camp, in which were mainly Polish and Hungarian prisoners. 

"This man has brought a note from a Polish prisoner of 
war who claims to be an American," she said. "He writes that 
he is ill, destitute and nearly starving. I can do nothing for 
him as the French Government is now negotiating for the re- 
lease of all prisoners, and as you know relations between 
France, Poland and Russia are such that aid from us to a 
Polish prisoner of war might cause a break in the negotia- 

I took the note — it was from "Corporal Frank R. Mosher," 
who stated that he had served during the war with the French 
Aviation Service, had later joined the A. E. F., had volun- 
teered in the Kosciusko Squadron of the Polish Army and 
had been taken prisoner near Kiev where his plane was brought 
down by the Bolsheviks. He wrote that he was in very bad 
physical condition and asked for food and clothing from the 
French Red Cross. 

I had never heard of "Corporal Mosher," but it was evi- 
dent that he was an American, and that he had to be helped at 
all costs. It was impossible to do this openly. As the armis- 
tice with Poland had not even been signed, feeling against the 
Poles was running very high in Moscow, and I knew that the 
Foreign Office could not, even if it were willing to stretch a 


point, wink at aid to Polish prisoners, particularly as, ac- 
cording to all accounts, the Russian prisoners were anything 
but well treated in Poland. In fact, the previous year I had 
myself seen a most disgraceful Bolshevik prison camp at Bialy- 
stok, where decent conditions were assured the prisoners only 
after repeated and vigorous intervention on the part of the 
American Red Cross, 

Something had to be done, however, as quickly and as se- 
cretly as possible. I went back to my room at the government 
guest house where I was staying, made up a food package from 
supplies I happened to have on hand, and took them back to 
my Jugo-Slav acquaintance at the French Red Cross. He had 
been a prisoner since the early days of the Great War, when he 
served in the Austrian Army, and, like all prisoners of this class, 
enjoyed a considerable amount of freedom and was allowed to 
go into Moscow several times a week without an escort. He 
had become acquainted with Mosher in the Koschukovski 
camp where the latter had been transferred from Kiev, and 
had agreed to smuggle out his letter to the French Red Cross. 

With the package I sent a message to Mosher asking him 
what he needed and I arranged to meet our go-between the next 
time he was permitted to leave the camp, at a safe place where 
I was sure I would not be observed. A few days later I 
received the list, which showed that Mosher was in need of 
practically everything, blanket, pillow, clothing, toilet articles, 
food. ''And if you can," he wrote, "for God's sake send me a 
pipe and some tobacco." He also asked to know my name. 
I was afraid to write, but I sent back word that I was Mrs. 
Harrison, the correspondent of the Associated Press in 

Little by little I managed to buy all the necessary articles, 
including the pipe, in the Soukharevka. This itself attracted 
no attention, as I was in the habit of going there several times 
a week to purchase supplies for the other American prisoners, 
but I had to smuggle them in small quantities to our secret 
meeting place, making sure all the while that I was not being 
observed or followed. After I had sent in my name to Mosher 
I was both horrified and delighted to receive a tiny note. 


"My name is not Mosher," he wrote, "I gave it when I 
was captured because it happened to be on the underwear I was 
wearing, which I had received from the American Red Cross. 
I am Merriam C. Cooper of Jacksonville, Florida, and I know 
you well. Don't you remember the last time we danced to- 
gether at a ball at the Hotel Bristol in Warsaw?" He then 
explained that he had taken Mosher's name, with his rank of 
Corporal, first, because as Captain of the Kosciusko Squadron 
his name was well known to the Bolsheviks and they had been 
particularly anxious to get him, and secondly because he knew 
that in the event of an exchange of prisoners enlisted men and 
non-commissioned officers invariably had the first chance. 

I certainly did remember only too well, and I knew Captain 
Cooper's record in the French and American armies. Here 
was a most important prisoner masquerading under a false 
name, and I, the only person who could help him, was myself 
constantly watched and under suspicion. If he were found 
out the consequences to both of us would be anything but 

It was necessary to take extra precautions, but I managed 
to send him weekly or semi-weekly packages, even money and 
books, without being caught in the act, and I secretly forwarded 
a note from him to his parents in Jacksonville, adding a few 
lines to say that I was looking out for him, and asking them 
not to mention the fact that they had had news from him except 
to the members of their immediate family, as his identity was 
not known to the Soviet authorities. 

Our clandestine intercourse kept up for over a month, after 
which, much to my relief, he was transferred to the Andronov- 
ski prison camp. There, of course, it was perfectly natural that 
I should learn about "Mosher" from the other prisoners, who 
invariably reported the names of any additions to their 

When I was arrested later, and cross-examined by the 
Checka as to my relations with American and British prisoners, 
my chief dread was that they would ask inconvenient questions 
about "Mosher," but his name was never mentioned. I never 
heard anything more about him until I arrived in Riga and 


learned that he had escaped from prison in April, when he had 
reason to believe for the first time that his identity was sus- 
pected. When we met a few days later in Berlin I heard his 
own story of his escape, and how he beat his way to the 
frontier with two fellow officers. 

In September when the French Red Cross left under an 
exchange agreement with the Russian Government, I undertook 
to provide temporarily for the British civilian prisoners, eight 
in number, and several elderly English ladies, who had formerly 
been governesses in Russian families, and to send bread to 
twenty-six British officers from Siberia, who were interned 
in the Andronovski camp. Since June I had been sending 
weekly food packages to Mrs. Harding, an English woman who 
came to Moscow as correspondent of the New York World, 
and was arrested immediately after her arrival, 

I did all this work openly, although I had no permission 
whatever from the Soviet Government. In fact it would have 
been quite impossible for them to give me official permission, 
unless I had some authorization from my own government 
or from the American Red Cross, and this was out of the ques- 
tion owing to the policy of the State Department to have no 
dealings direct or indirect with Moscow. The Foreign Office 
was officially blind to what I was doing, and I continued to 
send packages to the prisoners until my arrest. Occasionally 
I learned of the arrest of other Americans and in September 
I sent food and clothing to a Mrs. Schwarz, who was confined 
with her husband in the Andronovski camp. I had met the 
Schwarzes in the Foreign Office in July just as they were ap- 
parently on the eve of leaving the country, and had imagined 
that they were long since back in America. I was told of their 
plight by Patrick Quinlan, an Irish-American and labor leader 
who had also spent six weeks in prison. 

In the early fall I met Washington Vanderlip, who was a 
guest at the Sofiskaya Naberzhnaya. He came with the out- 
line of a scheme for the resumption of trade with Russia, 
claiming that the Republican administration which he confi- 
dently believed would succeed the Democratic party, would be 
disposed to open commercial relations with Russia, recognize 


the Soviet Government, and to take concessions for the devel- 
opment of coal lands and the establishment of a naval coaling 
station in Sakhalin. His personal conductor was an English- 
man named Humphreys, who had formerly worked in the 
Y. M. C. A. in Moscow, and was looked on as a member of 
the Foreign Office staff. Mr. Vanderlip was royally enter- 
tained during his stay in Russia and saw everything the Bol- 
sheviks meant him to see. He also did a little private specula- 
tion on his own account. One of the transactions which hap- 
pened to be known to me was the purchase of a number of 
paradise plumes and aigrettes, which he sold at a handsome 
profit in London. 

During Mr. Vanderlip's stay Clare Sheridan, the English 
sculptress, was also a guest at the same house, and she and Mr. 
Vanderlip were much in each other's company to the great 
delectation of the Soviet gossips. Mrs. Sheridan, who was in- 
vited by Kamenev, during his stay in London, to come to 
Russia and make the busts of Lenin, Trotzki, and other dis- 
tinguished men, was at first regarded with some suspicion by 
the ever watchful Checka because she happened to be a relative 
of Winston Churchill. She was very discreet, however, re- 
signed herself goodnaturedly to being personally conducted 
and apparently hugely enjoyed her stay in Moscow. I was at 
the opera with her one evening and we wisely confined our 
conversation to talk about art, theaters and such subjects. 

I only saw Mr. Vanderlip for five minutes, after which we 
were interrupted by the entry of Humphreys who announced 
that Mr. Vanderlip had to go to inspect some institution or 
other. The next day I was notified by the Checka that I had 
no right to go to see Vanderlip or any other American in 
Moscow without its permission. 

In the latter part of the summer, just before he left to at- 
tend the Eastern Conference of the Communist party at Baku, 
I met John Reed, leader of the American Communist party, 
who had been released a short time previously from prison in 
Finland. He was looking very ill from the effect of the hard- 
ships he had undergone while in prison and he struck me as 
being rather dispirited; not that he beUeved any the less 


in Communism, but I think he saw some of the mistakes that 
were being made in Moscow and felt that he was powerless to 
prevent them. I frequently saw him at the Foreign Office in 
the evenings and we had long talks about Communism. He 
told me that he intended to return to America and face the 
charges then standing against him. He impressed me as an 
intensely honest, rather fair-minded person, and I always felt 
that a certain spirit of bravado spurred on by what he regarded 
as unfair treatment in America pushed him rather farther than 
he intended to go in his radicalism. He was taken ill with 
typhoid fever immediately after his return from the Baku 
conference, and died on October 19th. 

I also saw something of his wife, Louise Bryant, who ar- 
riA^ed in the fall, looking very chic and pretty in her New York 
clothes. She was the only fashionable looking woman I had 
seen for such a long time that I was c|uite dazzled by her. 
In Moscow all the women were wearing the full skirts that 
were fashionable in 191 7. I am sure that her chic tailor-made 
suit with its narrow skirt and straight lines afforded work 
for many home dressmakers. I liked Mrs. Reed very much, 
personally, and I felt sorry for her when her husband died, 
even risking a visit to the forbidden hotel of the Third Inter- 
national after his death in order to see if I could be of any 
assistance to her. The next day, when I was arrested, the 
allegation that I had, under cover of sympathy, tried to get 
information from her about the Communist party was one of 
the accusations made against me. This was reasonable ac- 
cording to Bolshevist psychology, for it was exactly what a 
Communist would have done, under similar circumstances. In 
judging what are in themselves arbitrary, and often cruel acts 
of the Soviet authorities, many people fail to realize that the 
Communists are acting in accordance with the tenets of what 
is really not so much a political creed as a fanatical religion, 
based on an entirely new system of ethics. 

Since I have been in America I have heard many rumors 
about the death of John Reed, all of them absolutely un- 
founded in my opinion. It has been said that he was mur- 
dered, and a great deal of other nonsense. As a matter of 


fact, I believe that John Reed was not satisfied with the state 
of affairs in Russia. Like most foreign Communists, he was 
unwilling to accept the tactical dictation of Moscow. That he 
would have been arrested or in au}^ way molested, however, I 
do not believe, much less murdered. He was in wretched 
health during his entire stay in Moscow, and he was not the 
only delegate to the Baku conference who came back with 
typhoid fever, which seems to have been epidemic there last 
autumn. Mrs. Reed told me that his treatment was not by 
any means what he would have received in New York. She did 
not approve of the methods of the Russian doctors; she did 
not believe that the Russian nurses knew their business, and 
she told me that his diet was not altogether what she would 
have wished for him, but she attributed all this to the universal 
shortage in Moscow, and I never had the impression that she 
felt the lack of up-to-date treatment was intentional. The only 
matter about which she took issue with the Soviet authorities 
was his burial in the Red Square in Moscow, 

"John was a real American," she repeated over and over 
again. "I know he would have wanted to be buried on Ameri- 
can soil." 

Relief work for Russia was begun on a small scale dur- 
ing the summer by two foreign organizations, the English 
Society of Friends and the Joint Distribution Committee of 
America. The former was supervised by Mr. Arthur Watts, 
a young Englishman who lived at the Savoy, and consisted in 
furnishing food for children's dining rooms in Moscow and 
Petrograd. Up to the time of my arrest nearly two hundred 
tons of food had been distributed in this manner. Mr. Watts' 
methods were much criticized by the more conservative for- 
eigners. He was a Communist of the idealistic type and was 
quite content to receive and turn over in bulk the food supplies 
sent from England, leaving the distribution entirely to the 
Soviet authorities. 

The Joint Distribution Committee whose representatives. 
Judge Fischer and Harry Kagan of Chicago, and Max Pein 
of Brooklyn, signed a contract with the Soviet Government, 
operated through a local organization and got several trainloads 


of supplies through to the pogrom sufferers and the victims of 
the PoHsh offensive on the Beresina front and in the Ukraine. 
They had no American representative in Russia and Mr. Watts 
was the only foreign relief worker who planned to remain in 
Moscow for the winter. I often appealed to him to help 
me care for the British but got very little response from him. 

At the end of September nearly all the foreigners had left 
Moscow, the weather was beginning to get very cold, the 
government guest houses were poorly heated, and the pros- 
pects for the winter were anything but cheerful. No new news- 
paper correspondents came in except a few representatives of 
the European Socialist Press. H. G. Wells was in Moscow 
for a few days but I was strictly forbidden to see him. 

Owing to the scarcity of fuel which was every day becom- 
ing more menacing numbers of factories in Moscow were 
closed. Food was growing scarcer and at the same time it 
was announced that the government would shortly close all 
the markets and prohibit free trade. Nevertheless life on the 
surface was going on very much as usual : the theaters opened 
with new programs, schools began on time, railroads were 
operating, though on a restricted schedule. Passenger trains 
were cut down, however, and it became increasingly difficult 
for private individuals to travel. To travel anywhere outside 
of a limited zone around any of the Russian cities it was 
necessary to have a special permit, stating the nature of your 
business, a release from the office where you happened to be 
working, besides the worker's book with which every citizen 
must be provided. After securing these documents you had 
to stand in line for hours at a stretch to obtain the tickets. 
There was an office of the Kazan Railway underneath the Hotel 
Metropole and it was no uncommon sight to see peasants sleep- 
ing all night on the pavement in order to be first in the line 
the next morning. As only a limited number of tickets were 
given out for each train, it was necessary to secure them a 
long time in advance. 

The signing of the armistice with Poland produced little 
effect on the people. There was no rejoicing and no excite- 
ment for there had been so many similar events in the past, 


which had always been followed by new wars and new mobili- 

By this time I had begun to realize that not even the armis- 
tice with Poland would secure me permission to leave Russia. 
I was still looked on with suspicion, regarded as a person who 
knew entirely too much about the internal affairs of the country 
to be allowed to leave at such a critical juncture. A note from 
Mr. Colby, then Secretary of State, to Chicherin, announcing 
continuance of the American Government's policy to refuse to 
have any intercourse with Russia until the formation of a 
government which would represent the will of the majority of 
the people, caused much ill feeling against Americans in general 
and this was heightened by the arrest of numbers of Com- 
munists in the United States, who, it was said, were held in 
Federal prisons under abominable conditions. This impres- 
sion was fostered by the reports of the American political 
deportees and by the irritation which the Soviet Government 
felt at their presence, for they were mostly Anarchists and 
not persona: grates in Russia any more than they were in the 
United States. It was evident to me that I and a number 
of other Americans would be retained as hostages and I was 
quite prepared to spend the winter in Moscow, hoping however, 
that I would escape arrest until some arrangement could be 
made for the care of my prisoners. Meanwhile I lived very 
quietly, going on with my work as inconspicuously as pos- 
sible, seeing few people except the members of the Czecho- 
slovak Mission and a few Russian friends, and waited to see 
what was coming next. 


There is a current saving in Russia that every citizen "has 
sat, is sitting or will sit in prison." After eight months in 
Moscow I had ample proof of the relative accuracy of this 
statement, so that when I was arrested on the night of the 
twentieth of October I was not taken unawares by any means. 
Indeed, for some time, as I have already stated, I had had 
reason to suspect that my turn was coming, and I often used 
to lie in bed at night listening to passing automobiles, wonder- 
ing when one would stop at the door of the government guest 
house in the Mali Horitonevski Pereoulak. A motor in a quiet 
street at night in Moscow nearly always means a "Zosad," or 
raid, or an arrest, for none but official personages on official 
business use cars and the few commissars who work at night 
have no business to transact in the residential sections. 

On this particular night I had come home very late, about 
two o'clock as usual, from the Foreign Office, where everyone, 
including Chicherin, works all night, the news bulletin being 
given to press correspondents at twelve o'clock, and I was 
just preparing to go to bed when I heard a motor stop outside. 
In a few minutes there was a knock at my door. "It's all 
up," I thought, calmly, and without getting up from the sofa 
where I was sitting I called out in as cheerful a tone as I 
could muster, "Come in." 

The door opened and a young, exceedingly well dressed, 
rather pretty woman came in, followed by two soldiers wearing 
the pointed caps of the Checka and carrying the rifles which 
have almost entirely taken the place of revolvers even with the 
city militia. They were nice looking boys, not at all fierce or 
formidable, and they seemed rather reticent about stating their 
errand, so I thought I would help them out. 



"I suppose you have come to arrest me," I remarked. 

Without replying the elder of the two boys handed me a 
small slip of paper. It was an order for my arrest, accom- 
panied by a search warrant, written with a red pencil, and 
signed by Piatt, executive head of the "Secret Operative Sec- 
tion" of the Extraordinary Commission, which is the correct 
title in English for the Checka. 

At the same moment the Commandant of the house ar- 
rived, rubbing his eyes, and looking very sleepy indeed. This 
was strictly in accord with the prescribed legal routine which 
requires the presence of the Commandant or the chairman of 
the house committee whenever a search warrant is served. 

The two men then began a thorough overhauling of every- 
thing in the room, and nothing escaped them. They were evi- 
dently experts at the job. All my personal belongings were 
gone over, my bags turned inside out and the space between 
the cover and the lining thoroughly examined. The bed was 
subjected to a rigid search, as was each piece of upholstered 
furniture, the carpet was turned up and the space behind the 
radiator received particular attention. 

All my papers were collected down to the smallest scrap 
of writing — blank sheets were held to the light to detect pos- 
sible invisible characters and my books were gone over page 
by page. As I had collected a number of books and pamphlets, 
made innumerable notes, kept copies of all my newspapers, 
articles and telegrams for eight months, there was much to be 
inspected. And then my money had to be counted. I had 
quite a lot of it, a million and a half roubles, for I was at that 
time supplying weekly food packages to eight Americans and 
a number of British prisoners and had to keep considerable 
cash on hand for my purchases in the market. The money was 
counted twice, I was asked to verify the amount, then money 
and papers were made into two packages to accompany me 
to the Checka. 

Meanwhile I had been subjected to a personal search by 
the woman who had been sent for that purpose. She examined 
my pockets, felt in my corsets, my stockings and my hair, went 
over every inch of my fur-lined coat to see if it concealed any 


papers, but, much to my surprise, I was not compelled to 
undress, and I was treated most courteously throughout. 

I asked permission to pack the necessary articles to take 
to prison with me, and this was immediately granted. Al- 
though warned that there was not room for much luggage in 
the automobile, I managed to take a bag containing toilet 
articles, a change of underwear, some chocolate and cigar- 
ettes, an army bedding roll with a pillow and a steamer rug 
and my big fur coat. 

When the search was over I was asked to sign a document, 
witnessed by the Commandant, certifying that the search had 
been conducted in a proper manner, my room was closed, 
locked and sealed with a large red seal. I was then taken to 
the waiting motor, a fine English car, and driven through the 
silent moonlit streets to the prison of the secret section of 
the Checka, which is in a building on the Lubianka, in the 
heart of Moscow's business district, formerly the property of 
the "Rossia" Life Insurance Company. From the outside it 
looks like anything but a prison. On the ground floor a row of 
unoccupied shops, divided by temporary unpainted wooden par- 
titions, serve as offices for the Checka. The car stopped out- 
side one of these, and I was taken into a small dingy room, 
with a railed space at one end, behind which were sitting two 
Checkists in front of a large deal table covered with documents 
and papers. Lined up along the railing were a number of 
other people who had evidently been arrested, all men except 
myself. I was the last in the line, and it was more than an 
hour before my turn came to fill out the questionnaire pre- 
sented to me by the men behind the table. It was a most 
elaborate affair, evidently intended only for Russians, for 
among the questions to be answered were whether I had any 
relatives in the Red or White Armies. When this was over my 
money was again counted, my valuables were all taken, includ- 
ing my wedding ring, and I was given a receipt for them, as 
well as for my typewriter and kodak. 

This done, the commissars behind the table yawned, locked 
up their books and disappeared, and I was left alone with half 
a dozen soldiers. Then I was subjected to the only personal 


indignity I experienced during my ten months' imprisonment. 

One of the soldiers, who was what we would call a fresh 
guy at home, proceeded to search me on his own account, ac- 
companying the proceedings with a number of witticisms which, 
fortunately, I did not know enough Russian to understand, 
but which sent his companions into roars of laughter. They 
seemed to think it especially funny when I protested on the 
ground that I was an American. 

"Much good being an American will do you here, citizen- 
ness," returned my tormentor scornfully. 

Finally they had enough, and I was taken through a laby- 
rinth of ground floor passages and up three flights of stairs to 
the office of the Commandant, where I surrendered my receipts, 
and was searched again, this time in a perfectly correct man- 
ner. The commandant, whom I afterwards got to know quite 
well from his daily visits, was the living image of "Kaiser 
Bill," and my Russian companions always called him "Vilgelm" 
behind his back. Officially we addressed him as Citizen Com- 
mandant. He was a rigid disciplinarian, but absolutely just, 
and was always willing to listen to any reasonable complaints 
or requests. 

By this time it was nearly six o'clock. I was desperately 
tired, and very thankful when I was taken to my room on the 
floor below. Here again the first impression was not that of 
a prison, though as a matter of fact the "Lubianka 2" is the 
strictest prison in Moscow. Except for the armed sentinel at 
the door, the winding corridor into which I was taken might 
have been the hall of any second-class hotel anywhere in 
Europe. On both sides were numbered rooms. We stopped 
opposite number 39, the door was unlocked, the light turned 
on "for five minutes, so that you can undress if you want to," 
my guard informed me, the door was banged and locked, and 
I found myself in a small single room already occupied by 
three women. 

Two were lying on the floor, and one on a bed of three 
boards laid across wooden horses and covered by a thin straw 
pallet. The only other articles of furniture were a deal table, 
and the "parashka," a large iron garbage can, which is un- 


pleasant but indispensable considering the fact that prisoners 
are permitted to go to the toilet but twice a day. 

On hearing the key turn in the lock all three of my com- 
panions, who had evidently been "playing 'possum," sat bolt 
upright and began deluging me with questions as is always the 
custom in prison. Where was I from, why had I been ar- 
rested? I retaliated with a cross-fire in French and Russian, 
which resulted in the discovery that I was already acquainted 
with one of the prisoners, a pretty Jewish woman whom I had 
last seen at "The Bat," Lietiischa Muisch, one of Moscow's 
best known vaudeville theaters, with Mr. Michael Farbmann, 
the correspondent of the Chicago Daily Neivs. The second 
was a young girl employed in the Foreign Office. Both had 
been arrested a few hours before I was and professed to be 
ignorant of the charges against them, though I suspected that 
my acquaintance was probably in for what is known as "inter- 
national speculation," which means that she had had illegal 
business transactions with foreigners. The third woman, a 
young Russian girl, had been for six weeks in solitary confine- 
ment until our advent, which explained why she was the 
proud possessor of the bed. Hers was a most romantic story. 
She had fallen in love with a Hungarian prisoner of war, a near 
relative of Count Szechenyi, who married Miss Gladys Van- 
derbilt of New York some years ago, and was accused of being 
implicated in a plot for his escape, together with a number 
of Hungarian officers. 

For more than a year she had been taxing her slender 
resources to provide him with food and other comforts in 
prison, and I never told her that I had already heard that this 
same faithless Szechenyi was at the same time receiving food 
packets from a certain Princess Galitzin. She was what we 
would call in America a good sport. Though facing charges 
which might mean the death penalty if they were proved against 
her, she was always in the best of spirits, and made light of 
our hardships in the most delightful manner. 

When our herring soup was served at noon she assured 
me that it was fine for the digestion, and she told me that the 
six weeks in solitary confinement had been wonderfully 


soothing to her nerves. During all this time she had had no 
books and no amusements, except conversation through a small 
hole in the wall near the steam pipe, with the man in the next 
room, a well known theosophist. 

The morning passed without any incident except our ma- 
tutinal trip to the bathroom, where we all performed our ablu- 
tions together in a big tin trough with cold water. In the af- 
ternoon, I was taken to be photographed, full face, left and 
right profile, against a white screen on which my serial number 
was printed — as nearly as I can remember it was 3041. 

That night, curled up in my bedding roll on the floor, for 
there had been so many arrests recently that there were not 
enough beds to go around, I slept well. Strange to say I was 
not in the least nervous. After many weeks of suspense the 
worst had happened, and my first feeling was one of relief, 
for it must be remembered that my status in Russia had always 
been illegal, I had been arrested once before, and I knew that 
I was subject to rearrest at any time. 

The next day, shortly after dinner, a soldier appeared. 

"Garrison," he demanded. "Here," I answered. 

"Na dopros," he said, shortly. I was puzzled, for it was a 
new word to me. "That means," said my Russian friend, "that 
you are summoned to a hearing. You are lucky. Sometimes 
people wait for weeks before they are questioned by one of 
the judges." 

I followed my guard out into the hall, up and down a maze 
of stairways and passages, until I reached a familiar room, the 
office of Moghilevski, a member of the prsesidium of the 
Checka, who had questioned me in the spring when I was de- 
tained for forty-eight hours on account of the fact that I 
had come to Russia from Poland, an enemy country, without 
the permission of the authorities. 

Moghilevski is a tall, slender, dark man, tremendously 
earnest and intensely fanatical in his Communistic beliefs, ut- 
terly unsparing of himself and others in his work, but he has 
his human side, as I discovered when I noticed a beautifully 
bound copy of Rabelais lying on his desk. I remarked about 


this and he told me that he had a weakness for old French 

Our conversation in general, however, was not about lit- 
erary subjects. I was put through a rigid cross-examination, 
lasting nearly three hours about my acquaintances in Moscow, 
my relations with foreigners, my relations with the prisoners to 
whom I had been sending food packages, and other matters, 
during which, while perfectly courteous, he made it quite plain 
to me that my position was exceedingly serious. In the midst 
of his questions a soldier brought in two glasses of tea with 
sugar, a box of cigarettes was at my elbow, and I sat in a big 
luxurious leather arm chair. My answers were not altogether 
satisfactory, and the examination ended with my being re- 
turned to my companions in room 39, with the admonition to 
think things over and refresh my memory. 

I had not been back more than a few minutes, however, 
when one of the prison guards appeared again. 

"Pack your clothes," he ordered. 

"Where am I going?" I asked. 

"You'll see when you get there," he answered. 

I started to put on my fur coat. "You won't need that," he 
said, and then I realized that I was probably to be transferred 
to solitary confinement, the thing I dreaded most, and I said 
good-bye to my new-found friends with a sinking heart, and 
followed my escort down the passage. It was just as I ex- 
pected. I was shown into an empty room, the key turned in 
the lock and I was left alone. 


The autumn days are very short in Moscow, and it was 
already beginning to grow dark, so I could see little except 
that I was in a small box-like room about nine feet square, with 
a large window, the panes of which were whitened, so that I 
could not see out. There was a plank bed, a small table and 
the parashka, nothing more. It was very cold in the room, 
and for a while I walked up and down trying to keep warm 
and hoping that the light would soon be turned on. At that 
time I did not know enough about prison ways to realize that 
the guard had forgotten to turn on the light, and that I could 
knock and ask him to do so. Later I learned to knock and 
ask for all sorts of things, from a needle and thread to darn 
my stockings to a light for a cigarette. When we were short 
of matches we always knocked on the door, and when the eye 
of one of the prison guards appeared at the peephole, or 
glazok, which is covered on the outside by the swinging 
metal number plate, one of us would stick a cigarette through 
and get a light. 

Ordinarily the peephole, though inconvenient if you happen 
to be doing anything against the rules, is not an unmixed evil, 
but in the "odinochka," as solitary confinement is called, it is 
nothing more or less at first than an instrument of torture. The 
guards are instructed to keep a close watch on prisoners in the 
odinochka, so at least every half-hour, day and night, the 
number plate is stealthily pushed aside and an eye appears in 
the peephole, gazes steadily for a minute, and disappears. For 
some time I was perpetually watching for the eye, but after a 
while I grew quite indifferent to it, and it did not even disturb 
my serenity when I was dressing, undressing, or engaged in 
any of the intimate mysteries of the toilet. 



But to return to my first evening in the odinochka. In 
about an hour a boy appeared with a big copper kettle of the 
infusion of apple parings or dried carrots, which passes for 
tea in Russia these days, at the same time presenting me with a 
tin cup and a big wooden spoon, and turning on the light. 
While I ate the remaining portion of my day's ration of three- 
quarters of a pound of black bread, sipped my tea and nibbled 
a cake of chocolate, I looked around my new quarters. 

The room was very dingy, but fairly clean. The walls 
were covered with a faded flowered paper that suggested 
the old rooming-house days, and scribbled all over, as high 
as a man's head, with inscriptions in various languages. Some 
were funny, some defiant, others despairing. 

One man had written — "May 5, dopros. May 7, dopros," 
and so on through a long series of dates until July 15, un- 
derneath which was written in Russian "now I've told every- 
thing. This is the end." Another, a Frenchman evidently, 
wrote in a bold hand "Rira bien qui rira le dernier." (He 
laughs best who laughs last.) A Dutchman wrote in his na- 
tive language, "I lie here between life and death, but what- 
ever happens I wish to testify to whoever may read this, that 
if I die, it will be as a loyal Communist." Underneath it a 
Belgian had written "Vive la Belgique." An artist had sketched 
several soldier types, and a mathematician had covered many 
feet of wall space with problems in geometry. 

There were also innumerable calendars, with each day 
checked off, and each ending abrupt^. One, in English, run- 
ning for three months, interested me very much, and I won- 
dered if it could have been made by one of the four Americans 
whom I knew were in "Lubianka 2," but I could find no trace 
of the identity of the man who had written it. 

Finally this amusement palled, and I sat on the radiator to 
get warm, meanwhile taking stock of the situation. I had good 
cause to know that my position was very serious, but at the 
same time I figured it out that unless the United States actually 
went to war with Russia it was unlikely that I would be shot. 
Knowing the policy of our administration, I decided that it 
would probably be a waiting game on both sides, and that the 


only thing for me to do was to keep my nerve and my health 
as well, if possible, and wait to see what would happen. I had 
no reason either to complain of my arrest or to expect early 
liberation. It was simply the fortune of war. 

When I judged it was about bed time, for watches are not 
allowed prisoners, and mine had been taken with my other valu- 
ables, I lay down and tried to sleep, but sleep was impossible. 
My room was directly opposite the entrance door, where there 
was a constant stream of traffic. New prisoners arrived 
all night, others were being taken to or coming back from the 
dopros, and every time the door was opened there was a 
loud knock, followed by the challenge of the sentry, and a 
clanking sound as the chain which held it was unfastened. 
During slack times the other guards gathered round,' the 
sentry, exchanging jokes. Occasionally there were frantic 
knocks from prisoners who demanded in loud tones to be taken 
to the toilet; occasionally there was the sound of women's 
voices quarreling in another room, and I was continually 
haunted by the eye at the peephole. Finally I dozed off in 
sheer exhaustion. When I woke up it was light, and in a few 
minutes the door was opened and a woman's hand and arm 
appeared with a broom. From previous experience I knew that 
this was the signal for me to clean my room, so I jumped up, 
swept the floor, piled the refuse in a corner by the door, 
placed the broom beside it, and proceeded to carry out the 
rest of the day's routine I had planned for myself. 

First I made my bed, which process consisted in conduct- 
ing a hunt for the bed bugs who had invaded the sanctity of 
my bedding roll during the night; then I knocked and asked 
to be taken to the toilet, where I took a sponge bath in cold 
water. Soon came the day's bread ration, and a portion of 
sugar for two days, about two and a half teaspoons. I spread 
a clean piece of paper on the table and sat down to breakfast, 
after which I took a walk — five hundred times the length of 
the room and back. I repeated this every evening. At about 
eleven o'clock the Commandant appeared, took a quick ap- 
praising look around the room, and inquired if I had any re- 
quest to make. I asked for paper, pencil and a few books. He 


told me that I must first have the permission of my sledovatl, 
the examining judge, but he did not explain that I might ask 
for permission; so I resigned myself to waiting until I was 
next called for cross-examination, as I thought I probably 
would be in a few days. 

Dinner, consisting of a bowl of herring soup, followed by 
a bowl of kasha, the Russian national dish, a cereal made 
of various grains, most of which are new to Western palates, 
was served at noon. One sort, is I think, millet, another 
whole buckwheat. I had already learned to eat kasha, but I 
never could go the herring soup, though occasionally when I 
was very hungry I held my nose and ate one of the unpeeled 
potatoes that floated in it. Later the herring soup was varied, 
sometimes for some weeks at a stretch, by a thin meat broth, 
and on Sundays, when we had no supper, it was thicker and 
sometimes contained a piece of meat. The soup and kasha 
were served in wooden bowls, some of them of the beautiful 
enamel work which is one of the most interesting of Russia's 
fascinating peasant industries. Supper was served at five, 
and consisted of soup only, followed by tea. This was my 
regular prison fare for eight months. Compared to that served 
in Soviet dining-rooms outside, it was a little better if any- 
thing, and knowing as I did, standards of life in Moscow, I 
realized that I was no worse off in this respect than thousands 
of other people. I can well imagine, however, that strangers 
who were arrested almost on their arrival in Moscow would 
regard it as starvation diet, and certainly no one could get fat 
on it. 

In spite of all efforts to keep myself busy and amused the 
first day and the succeeding ones were terribly long. I re- 
sorted to all sorts of expedients to pass the time. In my bag 
I found some paper cigarette boxes and a cardboard toothpow- 
der box. Out of these I made a pack of tiny cards, with a 
pencil I had managed to hide, through all the searches of my 
belongings. I was playing solitaire very peacefully when my 
enemy of the peephole looked in, saw me, unlocked the door 
and ordered me to give them up, for cards are not allowed in 
the Checka. Then I played jackstraws with dead matches and 


a bent hairpin. Then I sang under my breath all the songs 
I had ever known, recited all the poems I remembered and gave 
myself oral examinations in languages and history. 

I shall never forget a little incident which happened one 
day when I was feeling particularly blue, illustrating the kind- 
liness of many of the prison guards, which I often experienced 
in the long months that followed. I had completely exhausted 
my supply of cigarettes and was wondering what on earth I 
would do without them when one of the guards appeared 
with the cigarettes which were part of the regular prison ra- 
tion. The number given out varied with the supply — some- 
times we received twenty-five a week, at other times, six a 
day and occasionally none at all for two weeks. On this oc- 
casion I asked him how many I was entitled to. "Sixteen," 
he replied. I suppose I must have looked disappointed, for 
after glancing at me sharply he counted out sixteen in a loud 
voice, laid down thirty-five on the table, and went away with- 
out another word. 

Finally, when my first week was nearly up, the monotony 
and isolation had got on my nerves to such an extent that I 
decided I could not stand it much longer, and resolved on a 
bold stroke. I wrote to Moghilevski and told him I had a 
very important communication to make. 

In two hours I was called to his room. "Well, what is it 
you have to tell me?" he asked. 

"I want to tell you that it is very important for me to talk 
to somebody," I said. "You are the only person I can ask 
to talk to and I will be very glad to have you cross-examine 
me again. If you don't want to have any more conversations 
with me at frequent intervals please put me in a room with 
other people. I can't stand being alone any longer." 

For a moment he just stared at me, then he did cross- 
examine me again, and finally turned me over to his secretary, 
a studious young Jew with a passion for doing problems in 
geometry when he wasn't trying to solve personal equations. 
The end of it all was that I was informed that while I had 
failed to give a satisfactory account of myself, the charges 
against me would not be pushed at the moment, and that my 


request to be transferred to another room would be granted. 
After that I did not see Moghilevski again for over two 
months. I was rather sorry on the whole, for although we 
disagreed on practically all subjects from Communism to her- 
rings, of which he was evidently fond, for he often had a bowl 
of our prison soup for his dinner, his was a keen, alert mind 
and he was a very stimulating and resourceful enemy. 

After my talk with his secretary I was transferred to the 
general room where I spent the next six months, with plenty 
of company, for we were rarely less than seven, and often as 
many as eleven or twelve for days at a time. 


The room to which I was transferred was much larger 
than any I had seen before, but my first impression of it was 
that it was exactly the shape of the coffins that are used all 
over Europe. It was rectangular, about eighteen feet long, 
possibly seven feet wide at one end, and ten at the other. 
There were two windows, whitened of course, at either end. 
They were double, with an air space between, which we used 
for cold storage purposes, dropping food down on cords 
through a small pane at the top, which opened on a hinge. 
This little opening was our only means of obtaining fresh air, 
as the windows were hermetically sealed with putty. Through 
it, by standing on the sill, a glimpse of the courts into which the 
windows opened could be obtained, but not even a patch of sky 
was visible. During the six months I lived there I never saw 
the sun, moon or sky, except twice, once in December, and 
again in February, when we were taken out to one of the public 
baths with an armed escort, and I never left the room except 
for our morning and evening trips to the toilet, or when I was 
summoned to a dopros. It was well heated by steam, but the 
atmosphere was terrible owing to the utter inadequacy of the 
ventilation and the chronic aversion of most Russians to 

When I entered it was occupied by seven women, . some 
sitting, some lying on their beds, which were spread with non- 
descript coverings, here a plaid shawl, there a silk quilt and a 
lace pillow, farther on another with only the straw pallet pro- 
vided by the prison authorities. On a long table there was a 
miscellaneous assortment of cups and utensils. From under 
the beds protruded pieces of baggage of all descriptions, from 
peasant sacks and baskets to fitted dressing bags. 



The women were just as conglomerate as their belongings. 
They all stared at me curiously, appraisingly, and, as I thought, 
in a rather unfriendly manner, but I afterwards learned to 
understand this apparent hostility and insatiable curiosity with 
regard to newcomers. Living as we did, in such crowded 
quarters, an addition to our number meant more physical dis- 
comfort; then she might be a spy. On the other hand we were 
always hungry to hear the latest news from people who had 
just been arrested, and we welcomed anything that was a break 
in the monotonous prison routine. As a matter of fact, the 
Slavs are the kindliest, gentlest, most hospitable people in the 
world, wonderfully lovable and sweet-tempered. I was thrown 
almost entirely with them during my term of imprisonment, 
for I suspect that I was purposely isolated from persons from 
Western countries, and I never once had an unpleasant en- 
counter with any of my fellow prisoners. 

Besides Russians I had Poles, Finns, Letts, Lithuanians, 
Esthonians, Ukrainians and Jews as companions. They were 
drawn from every class of society, from great ladies to illiter- 
ate peasants ; they represented every political party from mon- 
archists to anarchists. There were some disagreements in our 
room of course, but on the whole we pulled together remark- 
ably well and no backward male can ever tell me again that 
women are incapable of team-work. In Russia there are no 
generalizations of this kind about women; there is no femin- 
ism, there are no "women's questions." Women are just peo- 
ple. Perhaps this is the^ result of the "broad" Slav nature, 
perhaps it is one of the good effects of the Revolution. But I 
have gone a long way from my story. 

As I dumped my bags on the floor and looked around for 
a vacant bed, one of the inmates, a slender, aristocratic looking 
woman in a worn out tailor-made suit that had once been a 
Parisian creation, and wearing the shuffling straw slippers, 
known as lapiti, which are given out to prisoners by the 
prison authorities, advanced to meet me with a smile, very 
much as if I had been a casual caller in a drawing-room. 

"I see that you are a foreigner," she said in beautiful 
French. "This is very poor hospitality to offer you in Russia." 


We both laughed, and then she helped me to unpack my be- 
longings while we exchanged information. She was Made- 
moiselle Helena Sologoub, a member of one of the oldest and 
most noted families in Russia. Their Moscow home, a beau- 
tiful old eighteenth century house on the Povarskaya, which 
is described by Tolstoi as the home of the hero Piotr in his 
great novel "War and Peace," is now used by the Commis- 
sariat of Education as a people's palace where lectures and 
concerts of the "Prolet-Cult" are held. Up to the time of her 
arrest Mademoiselle Sologoub had been permitted to retain a 
room there. She had been accused of acquaintance with a 
White officer of whom she had never even heard, and had been 
kept in solitary confinement for two months. We became good 
friends and I was very sorr}' several weeks later when she was 
ordered to pack and leave. I did not know what had become 
of her until a long time afterward, when a prisoner arriving 
from the Butierki, Moscow's largest prison, told me that she 
had been there for several months, finally being transferred 
to an internment camp. 

My other fellow prisoners were three women clerks from 
the War Office, who had been arrested as witnesses in con- 
nection with an alleged counter-revolutionary plot in one of 
the departments, a Lettish Communist, who was arrested with 
her husband, suspected of being an "agent provocateur," the 
young wife of a naval officer who was imprisoned in the ad- 
joining room, and a sixteen year old girl from Archangel, 
who had been kept in the local Checka, threatened with death, 
for six weeks, because she had repeated a remark she had 
heard to the effect that there would soon be a counter-revolu- 
tion. I am glad to be able to say that Moscow had more sense 
than Archangel. After three weeks in prison she was ques- 
tioned by a woman examiner and immediately offered her 
choice between being sent back to Archangel or remaining in 
Moscow and continuing her education. The fact that minors 
who are arrested are invariably questioned by women and 
treated with great kindness is a point in favor of the Checka, 
though it is done with a view to ultimately making good Com- 


It is wonderful how naturally one drops into the routine 
of prison life. I was fortunate on arriving in finding a vacant 
bed at the narrow end of the room next to the window. There 
was just enough space to move freely between me and the 
bed opposite, but I had light, the benefit of what little fresh 
air was to be had, and the window sill to use as a bureau. Be- 
sides it was a wonderful strategic position, commanding a view 
of the whole room, and as the door was at the extreme end of 
one of the long sides, I escaped the eye at the peephole. Go- 
ings and comings afifected me very little — I could sit up in my 
corner and survey the confusion with a delightful feeling of 

Occasionally, however, even my small measure of privacy 
was invaded. Eight beds covered the available wall space, nine 
or ten meant beds in the wide part of the room and the shifting 
of the table nearer the narrow end. Once, for several nights, 
a woman slept on the floor between my bed and my neigh- 
bor's opposite, and I had to literally walk over her to get out. 
There were then eleven of us, and there was absolutely no floor 
space left, so when another prisoner arrived about two a.m. 
we cleared off our cups and dishes and put her on the table. 
When she had just gotten settled still another appeared, so we 
offered her our one chair, and she sat up for the rest of the 
night. These congested times were luckily not very frequent, 
and our average number was seven or eight. 

Strange as it may seem, I was really very busy in prison, 
and while each day seemed interminable, the time on the whole 
passed very quickly. Realizing the importance of getting 
some exercise I used to do Swedish gymnastics morning and 
night, to the constant wonder and amazement of my compan- 
ions. One evening a woman who had just been arrested, after 
watching me go through my gyrations, asked me very serious- 
ly if that was the way we prayed to God in America. 

Then there was the daily hunt for vermin. All the beds 
were infested with bed bugs and they had to be gone over 
several times a week. At first I did not realize the importance 
of special care of the hair, and consequently acquired what are 
known to the learned as peticulosis and to school children at 


home as "nits." It took me some time to get rid of them, and 
then only thanks to a good friend who gave me a fine tooth 
comb which was one of my chief treasures for the rest of my 
term of imprisonment. When we had prisoners from the 
South we were pestered with fleas, the most ehisive of all 
plaguey insects. I always inspected my underclothes twice 
a day, for we had many cooties, especially when prisoners 
arrived from a distance, and cooties are not only disagreeable 
but dangerous in Russia, for they are the carriers of the 
dreaded typhus. Occasionally we had lazy fellowprisoners 
who refused to join in the daily hunt, but public opinion usually 
forced them to it in the end. 

In spite of all our precautions we had three cases of typhus 
during the winter. As soon as the diagnosis was clear they 
were removed, and after each one we waited for two weeks 
to find out if we were infected. There were also several cases 
of syphilis in the acute state, one being that of a young girl 
who went suddenly insane in the middle of the night, and had 
to be taken off to the hospital. We had many cases of acute 
hysteria, and I was often kept busy for several hours applying 
cold compresses and administering valerian. 

We obtained all simple remedies from the prison dispen- 
sary. Medical service, while not adequate, was fairly satis- 
factory. There was a woman physician in charge of the 
prison, and she made periodical rounds of inspection, usually 
once a week. There was a "felcher," a third year medical 
student, who could be summoned at any time during the day or 
night, though occasionally he was not on hand when wanted; 
and there were cases in our room when acutely ill persons were 
obliged to wait for several hours without receiving medical 

Prisoners requiring the services of a physician were sup- 
posed to register their names, when the Commandant made his 
rounds, which was usually several times a week, and they 
received a visit from the "felcher" some time within the next 
twenty-four hours. Simple remedies, such as soda, castor oil 
and aspirin, could always be obtained from the dispensary and 
prisoners were allowed to receive medicine from their friends 


outside. All drugs sent in this manner were subjected to analy- 
sis by the prison physician before being given to the inmates. 
Cases of acute illness were removed to the hospital as soon 
as possible and the prison authorities were always on the watch 
for infectious diseases, which might cause an epidemic in the 
prison. But people suffering with chronic complaints received 
little attention and were not able to obtain the necessary care 
or diet. In the other prisons in Moscow special rations are 
provided for such persons, but in the Checka no arrangements 
existed for the Bolnichni Stol, hospital table. Pregnant 
women and persons suffering from undernourishment received 
larger portions of the regular rations, that was all. During my 
eight months in the Checka five or six women who were ex- 
pecting babies within a comparatively short time were kept 
on our floor for from two weeks to three months. The close 
quarters, bad air, and inadequate diet were particularly hard 
on them, and it seemed curiously inconsistent to me, in view 
of the Soviet Government's avowed principle of caring first of 
all for children. 

The problem of keeping clean took much time. Occasion- 
ally I cajoled one of the guards into bringing me a kettle of 
hot water from the huge samovar machine in the court which 
supplied the prison, but usually there was no hot water to be 
had, so I used to save hot tea morning and evening in empty 
bottles that had been sent to the prisoners with milk. At night 
I took a tea bath in a small earthenware bowl that had been 
sent me by the Czecho-Slovak Red Cross, and in the morning 
I washed my underclothes in the same manner, one or two 
pieces a day. I made coarse lace with a crooked hairpin from 
linen threads drawn from an old bag, took Russian lessons 
from my companions and helped to mend the prison linen. 

All the prisoners are allowed to wear their own clothes 
and no uniforms are provided, but those who are arrested with- 
out any baggage may obtain shirts and drawers, furnished once 
a week. At first men and women alike were provided with 
these garments, but after a while the privilege of wearing 
Russian B. V. D.'s was withdrawn from the ladies, owing to 
their proclivity for altering them to conform to the lines of 


feminine lingerie. The shirts we mended were sometimes 
kasicnni, the regulation blouses, such as are furnished the 
Red Army. At other times we had shirts of all styles and 
materials, of finest linen, batiste and silk, sometimes with 
embroidered monograms. The makers' marks in the collar 
bands were from all parts of the world : Paris, London, Tokio, 
New York, Budapest, Berlin. These garments had either been 
requisitioned from former bourjeoi, or left behind by prisoners 
of all nationalities, who were either freed or met a grimmer 
fate. I often wove romances about the former owners as I 
patched and darned. 

This work was purely voluntary. We liked it because it 
gave us needles and thread to mend our own clothes and the 
privilege of having scissors, which as a rule are strictly for- 
bidden. I never realized before to how many uses one pair 
of scissors could be put. We employed them to cut our bread, 
open tin cans, trim our hair and finger nails, mend our shoes, 
and even to carve meat and sausage. 

I believe, as a whole, the women prisoners under exactly 
the same conditions were relatively far more comfortable than 
the men. We took a great interest in keeping our room as 
clean as possible and we often managed to make our prison 
fare more palatable by simple expedients. For instance when 
the potatoes were badly cooked or frozen, as they usually were, 
we used to fish them out of our soup at dinner time, put them 
in one large bowl and mash them with a wooden spoon until 
they were reduced to a paste which we flavored with a little 
salt. Then we made them into croquettes and dropped them 
into our hot soup in the evening. Although we had a great 
many lice, I rarely saw a woman with underclothes as filthy 
as the prison underwear worn by the men. Of course it had 
all been boiled and laundered when we received it to mend, but 
the seams were coated with deposits of eggs from all sorts of 

Besides, we were all very ingenious at inventing games and 
amusements. We had several packs of cards made of the 
mouthpieces of the Russian cigarettes, chessmen and checkers 
made of hardened bread and paper dominoes, all these being 


kept carefully hidden, for games are not allowed. One of our 
favorite pastimes was fortune-telling with cards, at which 
most Russian women are adepts, and in which they believe 
implicitly. Once we had books, for two blissful weeks at New 
Years', but they were afterwards taken away from us. We 
often sang Russian songs in the evening after the lights were 
out, in an undertone, of course, for we were not allowed to 
sing or to speak in tones that could be heard outside in the 
hall. Most of these songs were traditional melodies that had 
been sung in prisons in Russia and Siberia for many decades. 
I learned a great many of them at the time, writing down the 
words, but they were all taken away from me when I left the 
prison. Perhaps my favorite was ''Baikal," a Siberian prison 
song that tells of the escape of a prisoner from the galleys 
in the mountains of Akatuya, bordering on Lake Baikal ; how 
he rigs up a boat from a herring tub, with a torn shirt for a 
sail and crosses the lake after running away from the penal 
settlements at Shilka and Nerchinsk. He calls on the Bar- 
guzin, the fair wind, to carry him. across the lake. Good 
comrades had helped him to get away, the guards in the moun- 
tains fired and missed him, the wild beasts have spared him, 
he has kept a sharp lookout while in the neighborhood of the 
towns, the peasants gave him bread, the young boys filled his 
pipe with mahorka; now he is covering the last stage of the 
flight to freedom — the trip in his frail craft across the "Holy 

Another song is called "Slushai." It begins: 

Like the close of day, like the conscience of a tyrant, 

The prison nights are dark, 

Darker than the nights that come with the storm is the darkness of the 

dread prison. 
Below the sentries march lazily, keeping an eye on the prison walls. 
The poor convict at his window hears their challenge, "Slushai." 

The song then described how the silence of the prison is de- 
ceptive. It is alive with the inarticulate murmurs of the pris- 
oners who are thirsting for liberty. 

Suddenly a noise is heard — a prisoner has broken his bars 


and jumped from the window. Something soft falls in a 
huddled mass at the sentry's feet ; one prisoner is free. 

Still another song which has long been a favorite and which 
I happen to remember as I translated it into English doggerel, 
runs as follows : 

Dawn and noon and glowing sunset, 
To my prison bring no light. 
Watchful guards beneath my window. 
Da ya ye, by day and night. 

Little need you have to guard me, 
Thick and strong my prison walls. 
Iron bars twixt me and freedom 
Da ya ye, deaf to all my piteous calls. 

Chains ! my clanking iron fetters, 
You I cannot break or bend. 
You will be my steel clad guardians 
Da ya ye, till life shall end. 

Then there were other songs which were very popular, 
the old revolutionary melodies, such as the "Varshavianka," 
the "Red Flag," and the funeral march of the Nihilists. The 
last named begins as follows : 

Ye victims, who fell in the desperate fight 
From love without measure for the people. 
You sacrificed all that you could for their sakes 
To bring them a life of happiness and freedom. 

The last verse is : 

When we accompany them to the grave 
We say to our fallen comrades, 
Farewell, brothers, you loyally trod 
The shining road to freedom. 

There were other present-day political songs which were 
very popular. One was "Yabliki," which is sung all over 
Russia, the various political parties making up the verses 
to suit their fancy. "Yabliki," I should explain, means 
"apples," and it is a slang word for describing what we should 
in America, term "boobs" or "simps." The chorus is : 

O, little apple, whither away. 

The Checka will get you, some fine day — 


One of the verses runs as follows : 

I am in the Bochka * eating 
Kasha from a bowl, 
Trotzki and Lenin are boasting, 
"We've swallowed Russia whole." 
In the Bochka drinking tea. 
Nothing more to fear, 
My man is a Bolshevik, 
And I'm a profiteer. 

There was a satirical song which was much sung by the Social 
Revolutionaries. "He, he Russki Narod — Hey, hey, Russian 
people," which satirized the Checka, the commissars and the 
Soviet system of government. 

Besides there were many beautiful folk songs, of which 
I never tired, all with plaintive, haunting melodies, and the 
oldest of all the Russian national songs, the ballad of "Styenka 
Razin," the first Russian revolutionary, who was executed in 
1572, in the Red Square, which took its name from his execu- 

Still another popular amusement is one that is not con- 
sidered good form in other countries, but which is perfectly 
correct in Russia at the present time. This was looking 
through the keyhole. If anything exciting was going on out- 
side, we took turns. The young wife of the Naval officer next 
door always had the right of way when the occupants of that 
room were taken out to or returned from the toilet, and I 
had first call when General Klembovsky went out for his daily 
walk. He was in solitary confinement for a long time in a 
room opposite ours, and I was interested in him because I had 
often met his wife, before my arrest, at the Checka when she 
was bringing him peredachas or food packages, and I was 
bound on a similar errand for the American prisoners. Be- 
sides he was chairman of the committee of Former Generals 
acting as an advisory commission to the General Staff of the 
Red Army during the war with Poland, of which my great 
friend, General Brusilov, was a member. 

Speaking Russian, I was able to learn the meaning of many 
mysterious noises that went on in the Checka, which have 

♦Bochka is the Russian slang for a low-class restaurant. 


often struck terror to foreigners unfamiliar with the language, 
and to read the prison rules posted on the doors, which kept 
me from the innocent violation of regulations and the conse- 
quent penalty of the dark room or the cellar, called the 

During my entire stay in the Checka no one from our room 
was ever sent to the podval, but two women were put in 
the dark room. One of these was a young Russian girl who 
had demanded to be allowed to go to the bathroom out of her 
regular turn. We happened to have a very disagreeable guard 
that day and he refused to let her go. Upon this she grew very 
indignant, which caused bad feeling ; then a little later she de- 
manded to be allowed to go to the corridor and get a glass 
of water. This was also refused and she told him what she 
thought of him. A few minutes later he appeared. "Na 
dopros," he said. She followed him out of the room and 
instead of being taken to the examining judge's office, she 
was taken to a small room on our floor, absolutely dark except 
for a little light that came in from the transom. It contained 
no furniture, not even a wooden bed. She was kept there for 
twenty- four hours without any place to sit or lie down on, 
but she received the regular prison fare. We prevailed on 
the guard to take her a blanket and a plate of food. 

The guards sounded much gruffer than they really were, 
and very often apparent threats were only rough jokes or 
friendly admonitions. Nothing was to be gotten by threaten- 
ing them, but they were almost always responsive to dignity 
and quiet good breeding. Many of them were actually in 
sympathy with us, and not a few were deserters who had been 
condemned to be shot and pardoned on condition that they 
should work in the Checka. 

Once we were all playing cards and although we sat with 
our backs to the door the guard who was looking in through 
the peephole as usual, suspected something of the kind and 
burst into the room very suddenly. I seized the cards and 
crumpled them up in my fist. 

"You're playing cards," he said severely. 

"Never," said I. "We never play cards in this room." 


"What have you got in your hand?" he demanded. 

I partly opened my clenched fist. "Only a little waste 
paper," I said casually. "How's the weather this morning?" 
whereupon he burst out laughing and left the room. 

The many stories afloat about the nightly shootings in the 
cellars of the Lubianka are absolutely without foundation at 
the present time. Prisoners condemned to death are kept in 
solitary confinement for a time, then taken to be shot to a 
place which I was told is in the Baranski Pereoulak, an out- 
of-the-way street. During my stay in the Lubianka I only 
twice heard the automobile which is supposed to drown the 
noise of the shooting at night, and then only for twenty min- 
utes or so. Once I heard a prisoner on our floor being taken 
out to be shot. He had completely lost his nerve, and strug- 
gled all the way down the hall with his captors, yelling pite- 
ously all the while^ — "Oh, God, I won't go, I won't go." 

In general I believe that the number of political executions 
in Russia at the present time is very small in Moscow, all but 
the most flagrant conspirators and spies being condemned to 
internment camps or prisons. 



It would seem, naturally, that holidays would be harder to 
endure than other days in prison, but as a matter of fact this 
was only partially true. Sunday was, as I have already stated, 
no different from any other day except that we had a little 
thicker soup at noon, and no supper. The Soviet holidays, 
of which we had three important ones, the anniversary of 
the November and March Revolutions and the birthday of 
Karl Marx, were the same as Sundays in so far as our rations 
were concerned, but the day before every prisoner received 
a peredacha from the Political Red Cross. On the seventh of 
November, the day of the Bolshevik Revolution, we each got 
half a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a quarter of a pound 
of salt, a quarter of a pound of coffee and fifty cigarettes. 
The articles were distributed by the prison guards, who came 
in with big trays heaped with packages. When the coffee 
was being given out I asked our guard, "What kind of coffee 
are you giving us — Sovietski?" Soviet coffee, I should ex- 
plain, is a brew like nothing else in the world. At different 
times I was told that it consisted of roasted bread crumbs, 
powdered acorns, roasted barley and cow peas. Sometimes 
the better qualities were mixed with a little chicory, or flavored 
with something that resembled vanilla. Our warder evidently 
considered we were all counter-revolutionaries, for he an- 
swered with a wink — "No, Nikolaievski." At New Year's, 
Christmas and Easter we received just about the same. 

The last two holidays with their home memories were the 
hardest of all to face, and I shall never forget the two weeks 
just before Christmas. Some of us, including myself, were 
foreigners. We knew that there was no hope of our re- 
lease before the great holiday, but there were several Russian 



women, detained as witnesses, or on relatively unimportant 
charges, who hoped up to the last minute. One of them was 
a woman with three small children. That she was in prison 
owing in large part to her own stupidity did not make her 
plight any the less pitiful. She had some time before her ar- 
rest received a letter by underground mail from her brother 
in Riga. He enclosed a sum of money, and wrote at length 
about his plans for the future, sending messages to several of 
his friends in Moscow as to how to get out of the country. At 
the close of the letter he instructed her to destroy it as soon 
as she had read it. Womanlike, however, she wanted to keep 
it, and hid it under the mattress on her bed. Shortly after- 
wards there was a raid in the apartment house where she 
lived, for hidden money and food supplies, and the letter was 
found quite by accident. She and her sister were immediately 
arrested and the three children were left alone in the apart- 
ment, dependent on the care of neighbors, with Christmas 
coming on. 

The poor woman, who was really utterly ignorant of poli- 
tics, was grilled and cross-examined repeatedly as to the ac- 
quaintances referred to in her brother's letter, and no doubt 
they were all arrested as well. She spent most of her time 
in prison weeping or laying out the cards to see whether she 
would be freed for Christmas. On Christmas Eve the first 
thing in the morning she reached for the pack under her pil- 
low. The first card was gramddni rddost — great joy. 'T know 
I'm going to get home today," she declared triumphantly, 
but the morning and afternoon passed without a summons. 
Finally at about nine o'clock in the evening, when she had 
sobbed herself to sleep on her straw pallet, a guard appeared. 
"Dmitrova," he called. "Sohirdites s veschidmi" (pack your 
clothes). In less time than it takes to tell it we had waked her 
up, packed her things, for she was too dazed to do anything 
but cross herself, and say "Thank God," and she was hustled 
off, sobbing but radiant. 

All of us followed her in our thoughts to the little room 
we could picture to ourselves, with its small wood stove, its 
jumble of trunks, boxes, pots and pans, parlor, dining and 


bedroom furniture, its pile of wood in the corner, the sack 
of potatoes under the bed, where three small children were 
huddled together, tired out with waiting for Mdtushka to 
come home. Perhaps she would still be able to get a Christ- 
mas tree at the last moment. We wondered, and meanwhile 
we finished trimming our own tree. It was an immense stroke 
of luck that we had a tree at all, and we owed it to the fact 
that three days before Christmas we had been taken out to the 
public baths with an armed convoy, and marched for some 
distance through the snow-covered streets. They were selling 
trees in the Trubnaya Square through which we had to pass, 
and we managed to pick up a number of branches which had 
broken off and lay scattered on the snow. When we got back 
to our room we tied them together and stuck them in a bottle, 
which we covered with white paper that had been wrapped 
around a package received by one of the prisoners. 

Then we set about making decorations. I had some, silver 
paper in my bag that had been wrapped around a cake of 
soap. This we made into festoons of little silver balls, string- 
ing them together on the thread we received to mend the prison 
linen. Another woman had a piece of red cardboard that had 
been part of a cigarette carton, and I had a red label from a 
can of condensed milk. We cut these pieces of paper into 
red stars, which we attached to the end of every twig. I 
complained of a toothache, and received some raw cotton and 
iodine to put on my tooth from the prison dispensary. We 
used this to powder the tree, giving the effect of snow. One 
of the women contributed a little gold chain she wore around 
her neck with an image of the Mat Boga, the Mother of God, 
and the Christmas tree was done. We thought it was very 

A clean white towel was spread on the table, and then we 
prepared our feast. It consisted of a tin of American canned 
beef which had been sent me by the Czecho-Slovak Red Cross, 
two salt herrings, a rice pudding that had been sent another of 
the prisoners, prison bread, butter and sugar sent us by the 
PoHtical Red Cross and tea, an extra ration of which had 


been served to us at ten o'clock. We hid it under our blankets 
and pillows to keep it hot till midnight when we planned to 
have our supper. The guards had promised to give us light 
till one o'clock, which they invariably did on great holidays, 
and we spent the early part of the evening playing games. 
Promptly at twelve o'clock we all stood around the table. We 
were a strange cosmopolitan company. 

First there was Pani Pavlovskaya, a Polish woman, who 
had been arrested some weeks before because she had had a 
telephone conversation with a strange man who wanted to rent 
one of her rooms. The Checka had been listening in, as it 
does on two hundred and fifty telephones daily in Moscow, and 
it happened that the gentleman in question was suspected of 
being a counter-revolutionary. Pani Pavlovskaya had no 
babies to go back to, and her husband had deserted her and 
left the country in the first days of the Revolution. But she 
had a King Charles spaniel and a canary bird, and she was as 
much worried about them as if they had been a pair of small 

Next was Elizaveta Edouardovna, a pretty young German 
girl married to a Russian. Her husband was in another prison. 
She had been arrested some weeks before, and up to that 
time had no knowledge of the charges against her. Then 
there was Anna Ivanovna, a Little Russian, prostitute by in- 
stinct, spy by profession, with the temper of ten devils; the 
dramatic talent of a great artist. Anna Ivanovna's weakness 
was that she loved pretty things to wear and good things to 
eat and drink. She had sold herself for a pair of new shoes 
at the age of fifteen, had abandoned her baby for a man who 
promised her a green silk dress, and had betrayed a group of 
Esthonian Communists for a bottle of champagne. I had 
won her heart by giving her a box of red nail salve with which 
she rouged her cheeks. She was generous to a fault, impul- 
sively affectionate, and if she had lived at another time and in 
a different environment I am not sure that she would have 
been what the world calls an abandoned woman. 

Next to Anna Ivanovna stood Maria Casimirovna, a Lith- 
uanian peasant woman, one of the refugees who had been 


driven Into Central Russia at the beginning of the German 
offensive, and thence to Kharkov, where she was arrested for 
having, like the good Catholic she was, carried a letter from 
a Polish priest to a compatriot who was accused of espionage. 
Maria could neither read nor write, but she spent hours every 
day poring over her missal which she knew from cover to 
cover by heart, or telling her rosary. She seldom talked and 
never complained, but she just grew paler and thinner, day by 
day, until, when she was finally released some weeks later, she 
was almost too weak to walk. 

Then came a Lettish Communist named Vera Ivanovna, a 
delicate young girl, still weakened from six months in the 
Central Prison at Riga. She had come to Moscow, had en- 
tered the service of the Checka, and had been denounced as 
an agent provocateur. Although her position was very seri- 
ous, for such charges against Communists, if not disproved to 
the entire satisfaction of the Checka are punishable with 
death, she was not afraid; but she was heartbroken to think 
that she had been misjudged by her own comrades. 

The remaining members of our party were Olga Petrovna, 
a Russian woman, the sister of an old general who had been 
arrested for failure to declare the possession of a lot of family 
silver, which she was accused of secreting for counter-revo- 
lutionary funds, and myself. 

Before beginning our supper Pani Pavlovskaya, in accord- 
ance with the beautiful Polish custom, broke into seven pieces 
our substitute for the consecrated Christmas wafer, an Ameri- 
can soda cracker, the last of a box I had in my possession when 
I was arrested, giving one to each of us with a kiss, and wish- 
ing us a happy Christmas. We in turn divided our bits with 
our particular friends, wishing them the same. Then we sat 
down to our simple Christmas repast. During supper each of 
us told where and how she had spent the preceding Christmas. 
I had spent mine in Warsaw with the Polish American girls 
known as the Gray Sisters, who were doing social service work 
under the auspices of the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion, and I had had my Christmas dinner at the American Le- 
gation with a crowd of fellow Americans. 


After supper, one after another we sang our own Christ- 
mas Carols, and the story of the Holy Night was retold in 
seven languages. I sang Phillips Brooks' hymn, "Oh, Little 
Town of Bethlehem," not only because it was one of the love- 
liest carols I know, but because it was written by an American. 

Finally Elizaveta Edouardovna, our German comrade, made 
a short speech which I don't think any of us who were there 
will ever forget. She said that although we were celebrating 
Christmas in prison, far away from all that had made previ- 
ous Christmases dear to us, she did not believe that in the fu- 
ture we would look back on this Christmas as an altogether 
unhappy one. Prison had taught us one of the great Christmas 
messages — the message of good will towards men. Thrown 
together by fate under the worst possible conditions of mental 
anxiety and physical discomfort, we had learned to live together 
in peace and comradeship, to lay the foundation for a real in- 
ternational based on love and forbearance. She hoped from 
her heart that each of us would spend the next Christmas in 
our own homes, but she asked that wherever we were, we 
would stop for a minute on Christmas Eve and send a silent 
message of good cheer to every member of the present com- 

No one spoke for a moment — then the silence was broken 
by Anna Ivanovna who burst into a fit of wild, uncontrollable 
sobbing. Vera Ivanovna flung herself on her bed face down, 
saying over and over again, "Oh, Mother, Mother." The 
rest began to undress, talking about trivial matters to carry 
on, and I busied myself in my corner with seven mysterious 
packages containing seven tiny pieces of chocolate, which I 
had saved for the occasion, for I had told all my companions 
about our American Christmas, and I wanted to illustrate it 
by playing Santa Claus. When they had gone to sleep I slipped 
one under each of the wooden headrests that were supposed to 
serve as pillows. After all, I thought, it is possible, if you 
only try hard enough, to have a real Christmas anywhere. 

On New Year's Eve, according to the Russian custom, we 
all played fortune-telling games, very much as people do in 
America on Hallowe'en. First we tried our luck with the 


cards, then, in order to find out who was to be our future hus- 
band we drew slips from a pile on which were written a num- 
ber of men's Christian names. I told of the American cus- 
tom of walking backwards down the cellar stairs at midnight 
with a lighted candle in one hand and a mirror in the other. 
As we had none of the necessary paraphernalia, we rigged up 
a substitute apparatus. Our only chair was put on one of the 
beds. With many smothered giggles and suppressed screams, 
we mounted in turn on the chair, holding in one hand a lighted 
match, in the other our only mirror, the tiny one in the lid of 
my pocket powder box, and gingerly descended the three steps 
from the chair to the bed and thence to the floor. One of the 
girls solemnly averred that she saw the face of a dark man 
in the mirror. 

Finally we played another rather gruesome game. On a 
number of tiny slips of paper were written the possibilities for 
the future that were facing us at the time — a meeting, a jour- 
ney, an enemy, cross-examination, liberty, prison, death. These 
slips were placed on a table underneath a towel, and there were 
three drawings. I drew prison twice, and the last time a jour- 
ney. This meant that I would not be released for some time, 
but that I would eventually get home. The death slip was 
drawn once by an eighteen-year old girl who was arrested as 
a witness and knew perfectly well that she was in no danger, 
so we could afford to make light of it. 

Our Easter celebration was the most elaborate of all, for 
the Russians make more of Easter than of any other holiday. 
The spiritual significance of the Resurrection appeals strongly 
to the innate mysticism of the Russian temperament, and the 
more material side, largely manifested by an inordinate love 
for the fleshpots, finds expression in the great feasts that are 
spread in all Russian homes to celebrate the festival which 
marks the end of the long, cold winters, with their intermin- 
able nights. It happened at that time that all of my compan- 
ions, except a Polish girl arrested for espionage, were Rus- 
sians. One was a Communist and one a Jewess, and the rest 
Orthodox. There were nine of us in all. Most of them had 
families in Moscow and had received wonderful Easter pere- 


dachas. Our Easter table was really so beautiful that the 
guards themselves stared open-mouthed at it every time they 
opened the door. On Easter eve we fasted according to cus- 
tom, and supper was served at midnight. 

The table was covered with a beautiful drawn work linen 
cloth that had been sent us by a relative of one of the pris- 
oners. In the center was a nosegay of flowering shrubs in a 
pottery bowl. It was surrounded by a ring of gaily colored 
Easter eggs and flanked by the traditional Easter dishes, 
paska, a concoction of sweetened cream cheese, moulded into 
a pyramid, on each side of which was a cross in high relief, 
ham, and the koidich, an enormous loaf of sweetened bread 
with raisins, prepared according to a special recipe. In addi- 
tion we had vinagrette, pickled herrings, and small cakes, 
known in Russia as perioshni. 

On the stroke of twelve we all stood round the table. Our 
stdrosta (the room chairman) turned to the woman on her 
right, and kissed her on both cheeks. "Christ is risen," she 
said simply. "Christ is risen, indeed," was the answer, and 
this was done by each woman in turn all around the table. 
Then, as we ate our supper, through the open window we could 
hear the bells of the Moscow churches in the distance. In all 
the churches there is a midnight service beginning with the 
reading of excerpts from the lives of the twelve apostles. 
After the first the bell tolls once, after the second twice, and 
so on until twelve is reached, when all the bells in Moscow to- 
gether burst out into a mad carillon. 

I know of nothing more beautiful than the Moscow church 
bells; there are literally thousands of them. Tradition imputes 
forty times forty churches to Moscow. As a matter of fact 
the guide books state that there are four hundred and thirty- 
five, not counting the private chapels, and each has its chime of 
bells. Most of them are not constructed on the Western Euro- 
pean plan. Instead of being rung by means of a pendulum 
they are struck by little hammers and the sound is unusual, 
but often mellow and very lovely. 

Our lights were put out at one o'clock, but it was at least 
five in the morning before the last chimes died away. Ac- 


cording to custom our table remained spread for three days, 
and everybody who came into the room, including the guards 
and the man who gave out the prison linen, was invited to 
share our Easter feast. 


The physical isolation of prisoners in the "Liibianka 2" is 
about as complete as possible, but nevertheless we were any- 
thing but isolated intellectually from the outside world, and 
from those confined in other prisons. Though we were with- 
out newspapers we were well informed of everything that was 
going on in Russia. We knew of all the new decrees, all the 
negotiations with foreign governments, local and general eco- 
nomic conditions, and our constantly changing population was 
an accurate reflection of the political situation. 

During the first weeks of my imprisonment the majority 
of the political prisoners were persons arrested in connection 
with an alleged counter-revolutionary plot in the war office. 
All the employees of one department, two hundred in num- 
ber, had been arrested together with the department head. 
A nimiber of naval officers and their wives were also arrested 
for the same reason. This was in the days when peace nego- 
tiations with the Poles were dragging on at Riga, and there 
was a good deal of disaffection in the army. Most of those 
arrested were held as witnesses. There seems to be no ar- 
rangement for subpoenaing witnesses in Russia. They are 
simply locked up until they have given the necessary testimony, 
or if the case is a very important one, until it is brought to 
trial, the principle being that it is better to isolate them. 

After this excitement had died down we had persons 
arrested for illegal intercourse with foreign missions. All 
governments which had signed diplomatic or commercial 
treaties with Russia sent delegations to Moscow, and naturally 
at first there was much intercourse between them and private 
citizens. Many persons who had friends or relatives abroad 
received letters or packages from them through foreign mis- 



sions; then, the members of the missions were usually very 
well housed and entertained delightfully, and besides there was 
always the chance for the less scrupulous to send valuables out 
of the country or to do a little profitable private business. 

The Soviet Government, however, regards all official dele- 
gations from bourgeois governments as espionage organiza- 
tions, so the Central Executive Committee issued a decree 
forbidding Russian citizens any intercourse with foreign mis- 
sions except through the intermediary of the Foreign Office. 
Few people were aware of this decree, though it was published 
in the newspapers, for papers are not on sale; the only way 
for the average citizen to get the news is to read the papers 
posted in the streets and public places, and most people have no 
time for this in the scramble for food and the ordinary ne- 
cessities of life. Consequently many unsuspecting persons were 
arrested. Among the cases of which I had personal knowl- 
edge from being thrown with the actual culprits were the fol- 
lowing : 

A well-known comic opera singer signed a contract to ap- 
pear at a concert at the Esthonian Mission. She was unable to 
fill the engagement owing to a cold, but nevertheless she was 
arrested and spent three weeks in our room. Although she was 
never in the slightest danger she was very temperamental and 
took her arrest most tragically. After every do pros she 
would walk the floor for some time with a handkerchief around 
her head declaring that she had never believed that a woman 
could be made to suffer so; then she would lapse into violent 
hysterics and consume huge doses of valerian, after which 
she revived and entertained us all with clever impersonations 
of celebrated actors and accounts of her experiences and love 
affairs in Russia and other parts of Europe. She was con- 
vinced that imprisonment was making her hair gray, so she 
feigned a sore throat and got peroxide from the dispensary 
which she dabbed on her locks four or five times a day. 
Finally she was released through the efforts of her latest flame, 
a well-known Communist, who sent her wonderful peredachas 
nearly every day, though other prisoners were permitted to 


receive them only once a week, and we missed her very much 
when she left us. 

A young Esthonian woman married to a Frenchman who 
had become a Russian citizen, and who was expecting her first 
baby in three months, was arrested for having received a case 
of condensed milk from her sister in Reval and she spent a 
month in prison. 

One night a very pretty Lettish girl, just married to a 
Russian, was brought into our room. For three weeks she 
was in complete ignorance as to why she had been arrested. 
At the first dopros it transpired that she was accused of espion- 
age because she had had the members of the Lettish Mission 
to tea in her apartment. She was released after seven weeks. 
Still other cases were those of a young girl employed in the 
Foreign Office who had accepted a pair of shoes from a mem- 
ber of the Persian Mission, and the wife of the president of 
the Political Red Cross, who was arrested for having had a 
telephone conversation about the loan of an automobile to 
take food packages to the Butierki, with one of the members 
of the Esthonian Mission, and detained for forty-eight hours. 

An old lady in destitute circumstances, a Czecho-Slovak by 
birth, who had taken Russian citizenship at the beginning of 
the Great War, but who was already registered for the re- 
sumption of her own nationality, was accused of espionage 
and kept in the Checka for nearly two months because she had 
received food packages from the Czech Mission, Her alleged 
offense was rendered more grave by the fact that she was 
employed as a translator in the censorship department of the 
Moscow general post-office. 

The Kronstadt rebellion sent us its quota of witnesses from 
Petrograd, the defeat of Wrangel furnished us with several 
"White" prisoners ; we had the aftermath of the war with Po- 
land in a number of unfinished espionage cases, and of the 
peace with Latvia in the arrest of many Communists who had 
been deported from Latvia under the provisions of the treaty. 

One of the Polish espionage cases was particularly inter- 
esting and I happened to hear the whole story. A party of 
five persons engaged in commercial espionage was arrested 


at Kiev in July, 1920. There were three men and two women. 
One of the men, becoming frightened, turned informer and 
was released, the rest being brought to Moscow. Both of the 
women were in my room in the autumn. One was condemned 
to an internment camp until the conclusion of peace with Po- 
land, as was one of her male companions ; another became con- 
verted to Communism and entered the service of the Polish 
section of the Checka. The remaining member of the party, 
an intensely nervous man, was placed in solitary confinem.ent 
because he had refused to give the required information, and 
hung himself in his cell. 

The Lettish Communists were accused of being agents 
provocateurs in spite of the fact that most of them had spent 
several months in the Central Prison at Riga, where they were 
treated far worse than in Russia, many of them being beaten. 
I actually saw the scars on the arms, legs and breasts of 
several of them. One told me that they would have starved 
to death in the Riga prison had it not been for the nourishing 
supper given them daily by the American Red Cross. It was 
very pathetic to see these women, all of whom had suffered 
much and most of whom I believe were sincere and devoted 
Communists, held in prison in the country where they had 
hoped to find an asylum. Among them was a trusted courier 
of the bureau of the Third International, and she was held for 
four months because she refused to give testimony against 
her sister, who was accused of espionage. 

In the late winter unsettled conditions in the Donski 
Oblast sent us several Cossack women prisoners, the most in- 
teresting among whom was a young girl recently married to 
the Commander of the Second Army. She accompanied him 
on army business to Moscow, where he was arrested on the 
charge of having encouraged peasant revolts by refusing to 
carry out what he thought were unreasonable requisitions 
among the Don peasants, and she was held as a witness. Be- 
lieving in his absolute sincerity and devotion to the Soviet 
Government, she waived her right to refuse to testify as his 
wife, and was cross-examined several times, once from mid- 
night until nearly four in the morning. She came back 


utterly exhausted and terrified for fear her testimony would 
be misinterpreted. I don't know if this was the case or not, 
but I heard late in the spring, long after she had left us, that 
she was in the Butierki Hospital expecting the birth of a baby, 
and mercifully kept from the knowledge that her husband had 
been shot. 

Our prison diet was about the same all winter. In the 
morning, anywhere from eight to ten-thirty, we received tea, 
made of apple parings and dried carrots, or Soviet coffee. I 
was never able to find out exactly what the latter was made of. 
We were usually allowed to take as much as we pleased. The 
tea was followed by our daily ration of from five and a half 
to eight and a half ounces of black bread, according to the sup- 
ply on hand. Sometimes it was eatable, at others absolutely 
impossible and always without salt. The best was made of a 
combination of dark barley, oats and bran. Frequently it 
was adulterated with a substance that gave it the consistency 
of clay, the color of dirty putty. Every other day we received 
two and a half teaspoons of sugar, or when there was no sugar 
its equivalent in honey or bonbons. Our dinner, which was 
served at one o'clock, consisted usually of salt herring soup, 
chiefly eyes, tails and back bones, thickened with a little cereal 
or containing unpared, half boiled potatoes. In the winter 
they were invariably frozen and almost black. Sometimes 
we had, instead, horse soup with salted cabbage. The cabbage 
was frequently almost uneatable, as most of the half rotten 
cabbages are salted to preserve them. Once in a while we had 
a treat — soup with salt pork or mutton, containing slices of 
salt cucumber. The second dish was kasha, or boiled cab- 
bage. The kasha was always edible and usually sufficient, 
but it required considerable patience to eat the variety made 
of whole wheat for it was full of hulls. I used to pick them 
out and make a sort of chevmtx dc frise with which I decorated 
the edge of my bowl. For supper we had the same soup as 
that served at dinner, followed by tea. 

Many of the prisoners received peredachas, or food pack- 
ages, from their friends and relatives, and sometimes we lived 
high when we happened to have a number of rich bourgeois 


companions. Knowing as I did the prices of food on the 
open market, I used to wonder at the quantities of white bread, 
cake, cheese, sausage and other kixuries received by many of 
the prisoners. Of course in many cases it meant that the fam- 
ilies of the prisoners were selling their last possessions, but in 
others it was evidence of the enormous amount of hidden 
wealth that still exists in Russia. 

For the first three weeks I received no food packages, and 
then the first pcredachas came from the Czecho-Slovak Red 
Cross. I shall never forget my joy when I heard my name 
called for the first time, and saw the signature of Mr. Skala, 
the head of the Czecho-Slovak Mission, on the list which ac- 
companied the package. He and his wife had been good 
friends of mine, we had lived in the same house, and I felt 
that the small slip of paper was the one link which connected 
me with the outside world. The peredachas from the Czechs 
were often meagre, but each week there was something, 
with the exception of intervals of several weeks at Christmas 
and Easter, and three weeks after my transfer to the Novenski 
prison, when they evidently lost sight of me. They also sent 
me shoes, needles and thread, soap, and other necessities. Be- 
sides, as time went on, I began to receive occasional peredachas 
from my Russian friends who were released from prison. 
Thanks to one of them after six months I had sheets and a 
pillow case, a wrapper and many other small comforts. 

As the winter wore on it became evident that my case was 
being held in abeyance to see what developments would take 
place in the international situation. I was seldom called to a 
dopros. Once, in January, I was informed by Moghilevski 
that "Mr. Vanderlip, acting as the official representative of 
President-elect Harding, had practically concluded negotia- 
tions for large mining concessions and the lease of a naval 
coaling station on the island of Sakhalin, and that in view 
of this fact all the American prisoners would probably be re- 
leased in a few weeks." This was the last time I saw Mog- 
hilevski until the day I left Russia, and there was no more 
talk of freedom until I was urged in the spring to write to the 
State Department practically transmitting an unofficial pro- 


posal from the Soviet Government for my release, conditional 
upon the release of Communists then in prison in the United 
States, or the opening of negotiations for the resumption of 
trade relations with Russia. This I always refused to do. 

While I was in prison I received three letters from rela- 
tives in the United States, and was allowed several times to 
write home. On arriving in this country I learned that none 
of these letters had been received. 

I had several visits from employees of the Foreign Office 
who came to inquire after my health. One was from Santeri 
Nuorteva, who was for some time chief of the English and 
American department of the Foreign Office. He was later 
arrested and the rumors as to the reasons for his arrest were 
various. One had it that he joined the noble army of specu- 
lators, another that he was the secret agent of a foreign gov- 

Following Mr. Nuorteva's visit I had a rather amusing 
experience. When he asked me if I wanted anything, I told 
him, no, nothing particularly, except a bath, as I had not had 
one for four months. That night at half -past two a guard 
suddenly opened the door, turned on the light and demanded 

"Here," I answered sleepily, wondering vaguely at the 
same time whether I was to be taken out and shot, as prisoners 
condemned to execution are usually removed at night. 

"To the bath," he announced solemnly. 

I was taken upstairs to a very clean bathroom with plenty 
of hot water, supplied from the tank attached to a huge porce- 
lain stove in the corner, a nice porcelain tub, clean towels and 
a piece of soap. Needless to say I took advantage of the op- 
portunity, and in addition to bathing did a week's washing. 
This bathroom was ordinarily used for prisoners who were 
brought in from the provinces covered with vermin or afflicted 
with some infectious disease, which rendered them dangerous 
to their fellow prisoners. It was no time to be particular, how- 
ever, and I never bothered as to whether or not there were 
any germs left in the tub. 

In the early spring the government became particularly 


active against the members of other Socialist parties, and then 
began what was the most interesting part of my term in prison, 
for I had as companions a succession of party members. Our 
room became a real forum for the discussion of all questions 
of the day and even of the past. There were some old revolu- 
tionaries, among them a Maximalist who remembered the ac- 
tivities of the Nihilists and the assassination of Alexander II, 
and who had played an important role in the revolution of 
1905. While opposed to Marxism on general principles, she 
had taken no part in activities against the Soviet Government, 
and indeed had helped to keep the underground Commimist 
organization alive in the Crimea under Denikin and Wrangel. 
She was a clearheaded, unemotional person, and the circumstan- 
tial stories she told me of persecutions under the White Con- 
trazi'yetka were as bad as any I have ever read in the North- 
cliffe papers, of the horrors of the Bolshevik regime. She 
had been engaged in educational work during the past year, 
and was arrested because, on coming to Moscow on a Kom- 
mandirovka, that is to say, official business, connected with her 
department, she had happened to share a room with a Social 
Revolutionary against whom there were conspiracy charges. 
Although old and in bad health, she was kept in the Checka 
from the middle of February to the middle of March, then 
being transferred to the Novenski prison from which she was 
released shortly before my arrival there in June. 

Another, a Left Social Revolutionary, had also been one 
of the leading spirits of 1905, had spent much time in prison 
under Nikolai and was an old friend of Lenin. She escaped 
with him via Finland, and she described to me their journey 
to Helsingfors — how they hid in closed summer dachas, bunga- 
lows, near the Finnish coast, doing all their cooking at night 
so the smoke would not be seen; how they sneaked into Hel- 
singfors by twos and threes, obtained false passports and were 
smuggled into steamers bound for England or Sweden. After 
that she spent many years in exile in Switzerland. When 
arrested, she claimed that she was not an active party worker ; 
nevertheless following the obstructionist policy of the Left 
Social Revolutionaries, she refused to be photographed and 


was supremely indifferent to prison discipline, talking in a loud 
voice, though talking in undertones was a rigidly enforced rule 
of the prison, summoning the guards and demanding whatever 
she wanted. Failing to persuade her to be photographed, the 
guards resorted to stratagem. She was summoned to a fake 
dopros, but when she found out what was up she sat down 
on the stairs, refused to move, and dared her escort to violence. 
Then she demanded immediate release, or transfer to the 
Socialist section of the Butierki prison, and announced that 
she would begin a hunger strike within twenty-four hours. 
Receiving no answer, she struck, and starved for five days, 
after which she was taken to the Butierki. 

The same thing happened in the case of another Left So- 
cial Revolutionary, a young, handsome and exceedingly bril- 
liant woman from Kharkov. She had been condemned to a 
term of imprisonment in the Butierki, but as her health broke 
down, she was transferred to a prison sanatorium from which 
she escaped, beating her way back to Kharkov without money, 
papers or documents. The authorities were on her trail, how- 
ever, and she was arrested almost immediately and brought 
back to Moscow, absolutely without baggage and still wearing 
the clothes in which she had made her escape some two weeks 
before. Naturally she was very dirty and covered with ver- 
min, but she refused to bathe, comb her hair or change her 
underclothes or eat any food until she was returned to the 
Butierki prison. 

"I am filthy," she said cheerfully. "I shall probably in- 
fest you all with vermin." 

In spite of this fact, which was undoubtedly true, I found 
her a delightful companion, and I was sorry on my own ac- 
count when she was transferred to the Butierki three days 
later, though thankful for her sake. 

At this time obstruction among the Social Revolutionaries 
in the Checka became general, there was a feeling of tension 
in the air, mysterious noises were heard from various parts 
of the building, yells, howls, and the sound of breaking glass. 
One man, in solitary confinement in our corridor, who had 
been kept for six weeks without a dopros, spent a whole 


morning kicking on his door. For this he was confined in the 
cellar podval for several days. (The podval is used for 
the punishment of unruly prisoners. It is cold, damp, dark, 
infested with rats and vermin.) On being returned to his cell 
he smashed the window and the transom and made kindling 
wood of his bed. 

Another prisoner, on being summoned to a dopros. sent 
word that he had nothing to say to the sledovatl, and therefore 
did not care to go, but if the sledovatl had anything to say to 
him he would be glad to have him call. 

Then the Anarchists, a number of whom were arrested at 
about that time, began to practice obstruction. Twelve of 
them went on a hunger strike simultaneously, one, a very 
pretty girl about eighteen yeaVs old, being in my room. I 
later met her in the Novenski prison, from which she was 
released in July, as she had tuberculosis. The Anarchists 
caused still more excitement, armed guards were posted along 
the corridor and we had the feeling that a storm was going 
to break. The situation was finally relieved, however, by yield- 
ing to the demands of the obstructionists, and Left Social Rev- 
olutionaries and Anarchists were transferred to other and bet- 
ter prisons. 

All movements of this kind were concerted and simulta- 
neous. They were even supported by similar action in other 
prisons, thanks to the underground railway which exists among 
all political prisoners. The prisoners in my room were in 
constant communication with others in and out of prison. 
One means of communication known to the authorities, but 
which they were unable to control, and in some cases tolerated 
with a view of trapping the unwary^, was by means of writing 
on the walls of the bathroom. The Socialists had their ciphers, 
which were unreadable, but others wrote messages which were 
sometimes interpreted with disastrous results. Then there was 
prison telegraphy by means of tapping on steam pipes or walls. 
There were numerous pipes running through our room and 
sometimes we heard three or four furtive telegraph messages 
going on at once. 

Those of us who were not politically minded used to have 


very entertaining conversations with the men in the next room, 
in which, by the way. Captain Kilpatrick of the American Red 
Cross was confined for several weeks, unfortunately before 
my arrival. This was the way it was done. There was a 
steam pipe which ran along the narrow end of our room close 
to the floor and passed into the next. We found that by 
lying flat on the floor and putting our lips to the pipe the 
sound could be carried to the next room. The person on 
the other side also lay on the floor, putting his ear against 
the pipe. Later the men dug a little hole around the pipe, and 
we passed through notes, all of course absolutely non-political 
in character because there might have been a spy in the 
room adjoining. One of the men, who was an artist, drew 
sketches of all of us as he imagined we would look, and we 
had a great deal of fun. 

There was a girl in our room who developed a real ro- 
mance by means of our clandestine correspondence. She had 
already had a novel and rather romantic escapade. She was 
a Russian, but had lived for some time in Tiflis, the capital 
of Georgia, where she was a student at the University, and 
when Georgia went Red she decided she would like to get out 
of the country, so she contracted a Soviet marriage with a 
Turk in order to leave with him for Constantinople. Of 
course it was only a mariage de convenance and they were to 
part as soon as they got to Turkey, but at Batoum, where they 
were to take the steamer, the Turk was arrested for espionage, 
accused of being an English agent, and brought to Moscow 
with his Russian bride, who was held as a witness against him. 

Once I was summoned to our improvised telephone and to 
my surprise heard a familiar voice at the other end. It was 
that of the Commandant of the government guest house where 
I had lived so long, and whom I had last seen taking part in 
the search of my room. "Margarita Bernardovna," he whis- 
pered, *T want to tell you that all your baggage is sealed and 
quite safe." He also gave me news of my Czecho-Slovak 
friends and other people whom I had known at the Horitonev- 
ski. He was accused, it seemed of speculation, but he was 
shortly taken away and I don't know what became of him. 


We always posted sentinels at the door while these clan- 
destine conversations were going on, but several times we had 
narrow escapes. Once one of the girls was lying on the floor 
talking through the pipe, when the guard who had approached 
on tiptoe, opened the door very unexpectedly. I just had pres- 
ence of mind ejiough to kick her as a warning not to get up 
and then I sat down unconcernedly on the bed under which 
she was lying and swung my feet. Finally we began to feel 
that we were suspected and we were still more uneasy when a 
Finnish girl who had been really imprudent, even going to the 
extent of throwing notes out of the window to compatriots 
who worked at the electric saw in the yard below, was detected, 
and taken off to solitary confinement. One night, March 24th, 
to be exact, at about eleven o'clock, guards came to our room 
and ordered us to pack immediately.. We were sure that 
everything had been discovered and that we were bound for 
the podval. There was nothing to do but make the best of it, 
so we collected our belongings and prepared to spend our 
Easter underground. Our stuffy, overcrowded room suddenly 
looked very comfortable, and we filed out into the corridor, 
a disconsolate procession of nine women, laden with miscel- 
laneous baggage of every description. 


Much to our surprise, however, we were taken upstairs, 
not down, and found ourselves on the top or garret floor, which 
had formerly been used for employees. Evidently the con- 
gestion had become so great that it had been necessary to 
transform this floor also into prison quarters. 

The room into which we were shown contained about as 
much floor space as the one below, but it was shorter and 
wider. The walls, which had been newly painted, sloped at a 
sharp angle on three sides, making it seem smaller, and there 
was only one small dormer window, giving most insufficient 
light, and hermetically sealed. As usual I made for the bed 
nearest the window, but even there it was intolerably close, 
the air was damp, cold, permeated with the smell of fresh 
paint. The beds were new, and therefore absolutely clean, 
but we had mostly old pallets which were anything but above 

We unpacked and went to bed, but no one was able to sleep. 
The atmosphere was absolutely stifling and as chill as a vault. 
To add to the other smells our parashka was without a lid. 
We knocked repeatedly on the door during the night demand- 
ing air and a lid for the parashka. The former request was 
refused, and we were told that there were no lids for the 
parashkas on that floor, but that they were being made. I 
remained in that room until the beginning of June, but we 
never received a cover and we had to make a piece of old 
porous bagging answer the purpose. 

By morning we were all fairly gasping for breath, had 
turned various shades of white, green or yellow, according to 
our various complexions, and we were so weak we were hardly 
able to move. We demanded the Commandant ; the Natsiratl, 



or ofificer on duty, who was one of the few brutal guards, a Lett 
by the way, refused to send for him. Finally we wrote a 
collective Zdyavlenye to Menjinski, the head of the Secret 
Section of the Checka. It simply said : 

"We are suffocating. If you don't believe it come and see 
for yourself," and it was signed by all of us. 

Now the writing of these petitions is one of the inalienable 
rights of prisoners which has never been questioned. Our 
warder was afraid to hold it back and sent for the Command- 
ant. In two hours he arrived, and I think he was frightened 
himself at our appearance, for he ordered the window to be 
broken open immediately. After that it was never closed, 
but we were strictly forbidden to look out of it into the court- 
yard. Of course we did look when we were not observed, and 
it was an unfailing source of amusement to us, for it was op- 
posite the registration office where all prisoners who are dis- 
charged or sent to other prisons receive their papers, and the 
pridvoritelne, or general detention room, where prisoners are 
frequently held pending commitment or cross-examination. 

By standing on one of the beds, in the shadow, a little back 
from the window, we had a good view of all who passed 
through, and when our companions were taken out we always 
arranged for them to give us a sign to show whether they were 
to be set at liberty. Sometimes we were indiscreet and were 
reported on by someone opposite; then there were threats to 
close the window oi; we were told that if anyone appeared at 
it the sentry had orders to fire, which he actually did once or 
twice to frighten us. 

During the weeks that followed we endured other physical 
discomforts the chief of which were the frequent breakdowns 
of the pltunbing, which necessitated repairs that kept us from 
going to the bathroom sometimes for eighteen hours at a 
stretch, and the breakdown of the apparatus for boiling water. 
When this happened, as it did several times, water had to be 
boiled on the prison stove, we were only allowed a cup of 
tea apiece morning and evening, though we usually cajoled 
the guards into giving us a little more, and there was no boiled 
drinking water in the cooler in the corridor to which we were 


usually allowed access. Once during the very hot weather in 
May this state of affairs continued for a week at a time. 

Meanwhile, the political situation continued to be very in- 
teresting. Nearly all the prisoners were Socialists, Menshe- 
viks, Right Social Revolutionaries and Jewish Bundists, be- 
longing to the seceding faction of the Bund which did not unite 
with the Third International. We continued the political dis- 
cussions begun downstairs, but there were no more hunger 
strikes and no more obstruction. 

Having a majority of Socialists, we instituted a Commune, 
and as I was the oldest inhabitant in point of length of im- 
prisonment and all the indications were that I was a permanent 
fixture, I was appointed Food Administrator. We pooled all 
our peredacJias, and every day I had to plan menus for the 
three meals. Sometimes when most of us were receiving food 
packages, we lived sumptuously; again, when there were many 
from other cities, with no connections in Moscow, there was 
hardly enough to go around. It must be remembered, how- 
ever, that all the food we received from the outside was cold, 
and we had no means of heating It. After eight months of 
perpetual picnics I began to find this very trying. 

In our new room we started several new amusements, one 
of which was Swedish gymnastics, the other Spiritualism. We 
never had a real medium, but we drew a circle on a large 
sheet of wrapping paper, marked letters and numbers around 
it, placed an overturned saucer on it, with an arrow indicator 
marked on one side, and then put our fingers on the saucer, 
very lightly, but in such a way as to form an unbroken circle 
of contact. Then we kept perfectly still. In a few minutes the 
"spirits" began to get busy spelling out remarkable messages 
to the credulous. I used to have great fun with this, imper- 
ceptibly guiding the saucer so that it would stop opposite the 
letters I wanted, and my companions never caught on. Once 
or twice, however, when I did absolutely nothing we made 
some experiments that had really interesting psychic results. 

There was an old Lithuanian peasant woman in the room, 
who looked upon our proceedings with grave disapproval, re- 
garding them as nothing less than necromancy. She always 


sat in the far end of the room and crossed herself when we 
began. One night she was sitting there as usual when she sud- 
denly jumped up with a wild whoop and commenced switch- 
ing under the bed with a handkerchief. 'There he is; I see 
him!" "What is it, Christina?" we cried, thinking that it was 
probably a rat, for we were pestered with a plague of mice. 

**The Devil," she answered promptly, and nothing could 
make her believe that she had not seen the Evil One in per- 
son lurking under our beds. 

We had a number of peasants at different times during the 
winter, and they were all interesting types in their way, but 
the funniest was Anna Ivanovna "Kapusta." "Kapusta" in 
Russian means cabbage, and that was just what Anna Ivanovna 
most resembled with her face and figure exactly like a full 
blown head of early cabbage. She was arrested by mistake 
for a person with a similar name who was supposed to have 
been implicated in the Kronstadt rebellion and she was re- 
leased after ten days when the error was straightened out. 

Her account of her arrest, during which she unconsciously 
implicated herself still further was one of the funniest I ever 
heard. "I'd just come home from work, sweating all over," 
she said, "when a fellow comes into my room and says I'm 

"'Why?' I asks." 

" 'Haven't you had relations with sailors from Petro- 
grad ?' says he." 

"Sure," I answered, "the fellow I goes out with is a sailor." 

" 'Give up your papers and documents,' " he orders real 
sharp, so I hands him out my worker's certificate and my 
prayerbook which was all the documents I had. 
" 'Where's your party card?' he asks." 

"I knew I had to have a bread card, but I'd never heard 
of them things and I told him so. He wouldn't listen to 
nothing else, just brought me along and threw me into this 
room. Wait till I get out of this, I'm going back to the 

Anna Ivanovna had had quite enough of being part of the 
class-conscious proletariat, and I am sure she kept her word. 


I was asked by several of my friends to give a series of 
talks on foreign countries, to be held every evening after sup- 
per, so I brushed up my history, geography and economics, 
and told them all I knew about America, France, Germany, 
and the British Empire. They were insatiable in their desire 
for information. I drew geographic and economic maps of the 
various countries, showing their physical features, various 
zones of production, natural resources, explained the origin 
of the people, outlined their history down to the present day, 
sketched the Great War to its close, and the effect it has had 
on industrial, social and political conditions the world over. 
They also wanted to know all about literature, art, architec- 
ture and national customs. 

In return they told me all about Russia, for they were ex- 
ceedingly well up on all subjects pertaining to their own coun- 
try. Our talks extended over nearly a month, and their interest 
never flagged. This to me was very remarkable. The Rus- 
sians possess in a wonderful degree the faculty of forgetting 
their own personal problems and of complete absorption in 
purely abstract or impersonal questions. I don't believe that 
anywhere else in the world it would be possible to find a group 
of nine women, all in prison with no immediate prospect of 
release, isolated from their families, suffering great physical 
discomforts, and many of them facing serious charges, who 
would be interested in such matters. 

This attitude on the part of most of the women with whom 
I was thrown and my blessed sense of humor were the two 
things that enabled me to carry on through ten long months of 
imprisonment. Under such conditions you have either got to 
go under or live for things of the mind and spirit. There is 
no middle course. 

In studying the types with whom I was thrown I found 
that the old aristocrats, trained party workers and simple 
peasants were the people who stood imprisonment best. The 
weakest, the most spoiled and also the most treacherous and 
dishonorable, with few exceptions, were members of the 
former middle bourgeoisie. They lived best, complained the 


most and betrayed their companions the oftenest in prison. 
Sometimes they almost made me class conscious. 

Occasionally the terror of some of these poor people who 
had been arrested without any warning had its comic side. 
Once an old lady was brought to our room, carrying as her sole 
piece of baggage an empty milk can. 

"I was so flustered when I was arrested," she said, "that I 
grabbed the first thing in sight." This same old lady although 
she was never in the slightest danger, being held merely as a 
witness, was obsessed with the idea that she was to be shot. 
One night her plank bed slipped off the trestle which sup- 
ported it and fell to the floor, old lady and all, with an awful 
thud. She waked up shrieking: 

"I'm shot, I'm shot." 

It was a long time before we could convince her that she 
wasn't dead. 

In the late spring I was at last able to get some books after 
I had in vain appealed to my Sledovatl all winter to let me 
have some reading matter. The Commandant of our prison 
was removed and a Lett appointed in his place. Several times 
I had occasion to ask small favors of him, which he always 
granted, and I noticed that his manner towards me was a 
shade more friendly than towards the other prisoners. I imag- 
ined that this was because I never had hysterics, never made a 
scandal, which is the Russian for making a scene, and never 
made unreasonable demands, but I was soon to know the 
real reason. 

One day I asked him if he could let me have some books. 
He said nothing, but the following afternoon a guard came and 
called out "Garrison to the Commandant." People who had 
committed some breach of discipline were usually summoned 
before the Commandant for reprimand or punishment, and I 
wondered what I had done. When I arrived at his office he 
ordered his assistant to leave and shut the door. Then he 
said very kindly : "You asked for books. I have a few here 
that have been confiscated from the prisoners' baggage; you 
can look them over and take your choice." 

I thanked him, went to the bookshelves in a corner picked 


out two, and then he said quite abruptly : "You are an Ameri- 
can. America is a great country. Tell me all about it." 

I sat down and talked to him for about twenty minutes. 
When I had finished he said quietly: "I have a brother in 
America. I've often wondered how he was living for the past 
seven years. I meant to go there myself, too, but I was 
caught by the conscription at the beginning of the Great War. 
Thank you very much." 

So that was the secret of his kindness to me. He had 
once wanted, and perhaps still secretly longed to be an Ameri- 
can himself. Before I left the ofifice I had persuaded him to 
give me a pencil and paper, giving him in return my word 
of honor that I would not let them out of my hands. After that 
I was able to exchange my books every week or so. There 
were a number of interesting Russian novels, some good 
French classics and several German books to choose from. On 
his shelves I noticed also a number of missals in the old 
Slavonic that had evidently been taken from priests. 

Periodically throughout my term of imprisonment in the 
Checka we were annoyed by spies. I say annoyed merely 
because anyone who has been in prison for a certain length 
of time, or who has ever been in prison before, knows how to 
size up and detect a nasyetka. She is sometimes very clever 
and plausible, and inexperienced persons often fall for her. 
Safe general rules are never to trust a person until you have 
been together for at least two weeks, or unless you know 
his or her antecedents and record, never to trust anyone 
who talks too openly at first against the government and to 
beware of people who are called frequently or at unusual times 
to a dopros. Even then mistakes are sometimes made with 
disastrous results, and newcomers are often amazingly indis- 
creet before they can be warned. 

Once a young girl employed in one of the Soviet offices 
was brought to our room in the middle of the night. Before 
anyone could stop her she burst out, "Oh, I'm so frightened 
I don't know what to do. My brother was arrested last year, 
tried for counter-revolutionary activities and condemned to 
ten years in prison. He escaped from the Butierki three 


months ago, and has been hiding in Moscow ever since. The 
Bolsheviks think he has left the country, but he often comes 
in to see us. He is living" — here she named the street and 
house number. "I feel sure they have found out something, 
and they are going to cross-examine me about him." As it 
turned out there was no spy with us at the time, but if there 
had been the brother would have been captured the next day. 

When the girl was summoned to a cross-examination it 
turned out that she was accused of having received a present 
from a member of a foreign mission. She was thoroughly 
frightened and released on her promise to resist such blandish- 
ments from Oriental gentlemen in the future. 

The nasyetkas were of two types: the agents who simply 
listened to the conversations that went on, and the provocators 
who tried to get the prisoners to implicate themselves and 
others by involving them in illicit intercourse with their com- 
rades in other rooms or with persons at liberty. There was an 
interesting case of that sort in the early spring. A young 
Jewish woman, a member of the Social Revolutionary party, 
who had been in prison for several weeks was suddenly told to 
pack her things as she was to be freed within an hour. So say- 
ing the guard left the room. This was rather unusual, as 
prisoners are generally not told their fate until they are taken 
to the Commandant's office, and if they are to be released they 
are not left alone for a minute while packing for fear that 
they may secrete notes from other prisoners. The girl, 
who had been arrested before was well aware of this fact, and 
her suspicions were immediately aroused. She refused all 
requests to take out notes from her fellow party members, as 
well as one from an apparently much persecuted Menshevik, 
who begged her to take a message to party headquarters, and 
seemed bitterly disappointed when she refused. 

She was then taken downstairs and searched from head to 
foot by a woman with a minuteness and in a manner which 
ordinary decency prevents me from describing in detail. 
Nothing of course was found. After this she was released, 
but, happening to remember that she had left something in her, 
room, she went back to the Commandant's office to ask for 


it and was immediately rearrested and locked up on the same 
floor, although not in the same room she had previously oc- 
cupied. It was perfectly evident what had happened. The 
Menshevik with whom she had been in prison was an agent 
provocateur, she had offered to send out a message herself 
and had tried to persuade the other Social Revolutionaries in 
the room that it was perfectly safe to do so, in-order to obtain 
information that would lead to the arrest of persons then at 
liberty. The Checka had never intended from the first to 
release the girl and if she had not happened to return to the 
office she would have later been rearrested in her own home. 
At one time a woman was brought to our room in the mid- 
dle of the morning, which was unusual as most people are ar- 
rested at night. She seemed like a rather stupid, unintelligent 
person, but kindly and good-natured. I had several friends who 
spoke some French and German and we often conversed in 
those languages. She always professed that she was sorry she 
could not join our discussions, as she was unable to speak 
either language. There was a young girl in our room, almost 
a child, who for no apparent reason, took a violent dislike to 
our new companion. One day the child, who was a fiery 
little thing, got into a violent dispute with her, and to get 
even dropped her slippers into the parashka. The woman pro- 
tested, whereupon the little girl threatened to beat her. No 
one interfered, for she was not a popular person, and the 
woman was terrified. Turning to me, she shrieked in perfectly 
good French, "Madame, Madame, save me from this little 
wild cat! Oh, mon Dieu, the child will kill me!" It was 
rather amusing, but it did not cause us any uneasiness, because 
no one had trusted her from the beginning and it only con- 
firmed our suspicions. 

In spite of all my interests and activities, and the sys- 
tematic efforts I made to keep in good physical shape, the long 
confinement without air or exercise began to tell terribly on my 
health and in the late winter I started to run a persistent tem- 
perature, a bad cold in December had left me with a bother- 
some cough, and I was very weak. I spoke several times to 
the physician about my condition, but she said that she could 


do nothing for me as she only had the power to send people 
to hospitals. I also wrote several times to my sledovatl, asking 
to be transferred to some place where I could have fresh air 
and sunshine, but received no answer. Finally one day when 
I was feeling particularly ill, one of the medical students who 
had frequently had occasion to visit our room asked me if he 
could do anything for me. I told him that no medicine would 
do me any good, and that all I needed was air and sun. He 
promised to ask the doctor to write a recommendation for my 
transfer to another prison. I heard nothing more for a week, 
and then one afternoon, quite unexpectedly, a guard appeared 
with the order, "Garrison, pack your clothes." I had given 
up hope of ever hearing my name called that way, but I stag- 
gered to my feet, got my belongings together, said good-bye 
to my friends, half walked, half fell down four flights of stairs 
with my heavy baggage. Then I was taken to the court 
through which I had seen so many of my companions pass, 
and to the registration office, where I received my transfer 
papers to the Novenski and the receipts for my valuables, which 
however, were retained in the Checka. Then I was assigned 
an armed escort, and to my amazement, taken, not back into 
the court to join an echelon of other prisoners, but out into 
the street. 


For a moment I was dazed by the imexpectedness of what 
had happened. I had thought that I was to be taken to the 
Novenski in the big Black Maria which was ordinarily used 
to transfer prisoners from one place to another, and which I 
had often surreptitiously looked at from my attic window 
as it was being loaded in the court below. 

But here I was, thrown out into the Lubianka Square, with 
my escort, a good-natured, stupid Russian boy about seven- 
teen years old, with no idea as to where I was going or how 
I was to get there. I simply knew the name of the prison, that 
was all. The dazzling sunlight blinded my eyes, and I felt like 
a mole that has suddenly come up from months underground. 
The noise of passing trolley cars, carts and droschkes deafened 
me, and I was confused by the stream of passersby. Still 
thinking, quite naturally, that as I was ill, some means of 
transportation would be provided for me, I waited for my 
guard to call an isvostchik, one of the picturesque cabbies 
who were waiting nearby for fares, but he made no move, 
and stood quite dumbly with my bedding roll over his shoulder 
and his rifle in one hand. 

"Well, aren't you going to requisition a droschke?" I asked 

*T have no authority to do that," he answered. "We've 
got to walk," 

"I can't walk," I protested. "I am much too weak. Go 
back and tell the Commandant that I must have a cab," but 
this he resolutely refused to do. He made no move to go on, 
but continued to gaze stolidly in front of him at the passing 
crowd. Seeing that there was nothing to be done, I resolved 
to try to foot it to the Novenski, but as I was very weak and 



hampered with a bag and knapsack into the bargain, I had 
grave doubts as to whether I could make it. 

"Let's walk, then," I said, "but we must go very slowly. 
Where is the Novenski prison?" 

"Ne snaio (I don't know)," was the unexpected answer. 

Under the circumstances there was nothing for me to do 
but put myself in prison again, so I walked up to a gentleman 
who was passing and asked him the way to the Novenski. "I 
am a prisoner, and am being transferred from the Lubianka," 
I explained, "but my guard hasn't the faintest idea as to how 
to get there." 

Under ordinary circumstances in an ordinary country any- 
one would have been astonished to say the least, at such a ques- 
tion, but nobody is ever astonished at anything in present-day 
Russia. Without any comment he explained the easiest route 
to get there, and then added very kindly, his voice betraying 
the sympathy he did not dare put into words — "But you can't 
walk there, it is very far, at least six versts, and you have a 
lot of baggage to carry." Then he lifted his hat and passed 
on, a bit hurriedly, for it isn't very safe to be seen talking to 
a prisoner in the street. 

For a few minutes I stood undecided, not knowing what 
to do ; then I had an inspiration. I had no money, and I could 
not pay an isz^ostchik, but I had two cans of American corned 
beef in my bag. Perhaps I could find one who would accept 
that as payment. I negotiated with three without result, ex- 
plaining that I was a foreigner, ill and being transferred from 
the Checka to the Novenski prison, but that I was out of 
money and could only pay in American canned beef. I got out 
a can as a sample, it was examined, weighed and turned down, 
and I was about in despair of ever being able to get locked 
up again when I struck an old man with one leg who agreed 
to take me. 

I was about to get into the droschke when I saw an 
acquaintance, a woman with whom I had spent more than 
three weeks in the Lubianka. She dashed up to me, kissed me 
on both cheeks, and exclaimed effusively how glad she was to 
see me out again ; but when I explained that I was not free, but 


on my way to another prison, she cast one frightened look 
about her and scuttled away down a side street, hardly waiting 
to say good-bye. Then my guard andl, having piled the bag- 
gage in front of us, took our places on the back seat of the 
droschke, he with his rifle between his knees, both of us smok- 
ing cigarettes and chatting very amicably. 

When we arrived at the prison I was very nearly all in, my 
head was spinning, my knees wobbled, and I felt that I had 
a high temperature. If I could only get somewhere so I could 
rest ! The gloomy brick f agade of the prison, which is a sub- 
stantially built structure, dating from Imperial times, and has 
long been used as a criminal prison for women, did not look 
as forbidding as it would have under ordinary circumstances, 
and it was with a feeling of positive relief that I saw the face 
of the warder appear at the door in answer to my ring. 

Inside, I at once realized that I had come to a very different 
sort of place. Instead of a "checkist" in a tall cap I found 
a pleasant-faced, gentle-voiced woman in the room for the 
reception of prisoners, who took my name, asked me a few 
necessary question and turned me over to a woman attendant 
to be taken to the prison hospital for a medical examination. 
Afterwards she and I became great friends. She was a pris- 
oner herself, the widow of a White officer, which constituted 
the sole reason for her, being in prison, for she was one of the 
least politically-minded persons I have ever seen. 

When I left the office and was taken out into the court on 
my way to the hospital, I felt as if I were in a sort of terres- 
trial paradise. The court was a large one, with grass and 
flowering shrubs, and brilliantly flooded with sunshine. Here 
and there were benches on which women were sitting, talking, 
knitting and sewing, a girl was strumming the balalaika, little 
children were making mud pies. In the center was a small 
white church, behind it a library. Around were the prison 
buildings, on one side of which were the one-story offices from 
which I had just come, on the other the hospital, also a one- 
story building with a row of large open windows, facing the 
Western sun. 

At the back a large arched gate led to the street, and at the 


left of the quadrangle was the prison proper, with barred win- 
dows, it is true, but with growing plants and flowers in them, 
doors wide open, people coming and going. To the right was 
a workshop, and at the bottom of the yard which sloped 
slightly was a building which I afterwards found contained the 
schoolroom, kitchens, repair shops and a large recreation hall. 
Just as I was about to enter the door of the hospital I heard 
a wild shriek of joy from the yard, followed by a glimpse of a 
familiar figure running towards me, and in a minute two 
arms were around my neck. One of my best friends, a Social 
Revolutionary with whom I had spent many weeks in the 
Checka, had recognized me. Others followed suit, and soon I 
was the center of a perfect mob of former friends, being kissed 
violently and repeatedly on both cheeks to the accompaniment 
of exclamations of "Margarita Bernardovna," "Slava Bog" 
(thank God), and overwhelmed with questions as to the fate 
of other friends who had been left behind in the Checka. We 
had all lived through much together, and we had never ex- 
pected to see each other again. It was very wonderful. 

I was swept off to the dispensary, rescued from the medical 
examination, and from quarantine, where I would ordinarily 
have spent two weeks. "Margarita Bernardovna is the clean- 
est woman I ever saw," explained one of my friends solemnly 
to the "felcheritza," the nurse who was examining all new- 
comers. "She washes all over twice a day, and she has no in- 
fectious disease." 

Then I was carried off in triumph to a large airy room, 
where at first I nearly fainted. Someone made hot tea for me, 
someone else helped me unpack and get to bed, where I lay, 
quite weak, but very happy and holding a sort of impromptu 

The next day, I began to take up the regular prison life, 
which, barring the food, that was worse than in the Checka, 
was as pleasant and as nearly normal as life can be in any 

I occupied a room with eleven other prisoners, with two 
exceptions all "politicals." Our beds were composed of iron 
tubing covered with a canvas slip that was as comfortable as a 


good hammock. They were fastened to the wall with hinges 
and turned up against it in the day time, leaving the floor space 
free. At the foot of each l)ed was a small chest on long 
legs, known in prison slang as a "dog," which served to hold 
our belongings and as a bench. There was a long table with 
two shelves underneath, where we stored all our provisions 
and utensils. All of the other rooms were similar, though some 
were larger, holding as many as twenty-four women, and on 
each floor were two large clean bathrooms with modern plumb- 
ing and plenty of toilet facilities. In addition there was a 
Russian bath in the office building where we could get hot 
water practically whenever we chose. Technically, each room 
was supposed to go to the bath once in ten days, but as a mat- 
ter of fact those who cared to bathe every day could go there 
whenever they wanted to. They very seldom did, however. 
Russian ideas of bathing seem very peculiar to the Anglo- 
Saxon. Every morning they energetically splash themselves 
with cold water down to the waist, and once a week if they are 
very fastidious, once a fortnight if they are really particular, 
and once a month if they are just ordinary people, they go to 
the bath, where they spend hours, scrubbing themselves with a 
handful of vegetable fiber called "mahalka," pouring innum- 
erable basins of scalding water over their bodies, steaming 
themselves till they are parboiled, and ending with a cold 
douche. They could never understand why I bathed every 
day and only took ten minutes to do it. 

Every morning the rising bell rang at seven, followed 
immediately by the poverk (inspection), when the naziratelnitsa 
(woman superintendent) counted us to see if anybody had van- 
ished during the night. Then the doors were opened and we 
were practically allowed to come and go as we pleased. There 
was visiting between the rooms until nine in the evening, when 
the poverk was repeated and the doors were locked for the 
night. Some effort was made to separate the political prisoners, 
of whom there were relatively few, from the criminals. They 
were confined as nearly as possible in separate rooms. The 
former were allowed to exercise in the yard from ten to 
twelve in the morning and from four to six in the afternoon. 


The criminals were allowed out from eight until ten and from 
six until bed-time and the new arrivals who were kept in 
quarantine for two weeks, took their exercise between two 
and four in the afternoon. The political prisoners with the 
consent of their examining judges were allowed to see their 
friends or relatives at intervals and peredachas were allowed 
every day. The criminals, subject to good behavior, were 
allowed to see their relatives on Sundays. 

It was very amusing to see the way they evaded the authori- 
ties when permission was not forthcoming. The Novenski 
was situated half way down the slope of a steep hill, above it 
and overlooking the prison yard was a large church with a 
tall bell tower. The relatives of prisoners to whom permission 
had been denied for a szndanye went up in the tower of the 
church and yelled to the prisoners in the yard. This started 
immediately after dinner on Sundays and continued till late 
in the afternoon. It began like this : Ivan Petrovitch, whose 
sweetheart, Olga Nikolaievna, had perhaps punched her room- 
mate in the head that week and therefore was not allowed to 
see him, would take his stand in the bell tower and shout her 
name until it attracted the attention of someone in the yard. 
Then the name was taken up and repeated by the prisoners until 
Olga Nikolaievna was found. She was pushed to the front 
of the crowd and then forming a megaphone with her hands 
she held long distance conversations with Ivan. Sometimes 
eight or ten of these conversations went on at the same time 
with the result that the noise was simply deafening. Occa- 
sionally when one of the women was prevented from hearing 
what was said to her by her too vociferous companions a fight 
ensued which usually ended in somebody getting hysterics and 
a number of hair pullings. The authorities never interfered 
with these conversations unless the political prisoners took part 
in them. On several occasions this took place and their un- 
lucky friends in the bell tower were promptly arrested. 

Church services were regularly held in the little church and 
as the Russian calendar is nearly entirely composed of Saints' 
days, there was mass morning and evening almost every day. 
It was always crowded and two women were appointed every 


day to clean the brasses and sacramental vessels. There were 
nearly always fresh flowers on the altar contributed by the 

We could get all the books we wanted from the library be- 
hind the church and I found there all the Russian classics, 
many interesting bound volumes of the best magazines, plenty 
of good French books and a few English and German 
magazines and novels. The Socialists, who were in a class by 
themselves and had special privileges in certain respects, also 
had the newspapers every day; and as I had many friends 
among them, I shared all their interests and activities. 

The Socialist room, which held twenty-four, was occupied 
by Right and Left Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and 
Anarchists. Among them were many old party workers as 
well as a number of girls from the student groups, all keen, 
intelligent, alive to all the questions of the day. I found them 
fully equal to, if not superior to the men of a corresponding 
stage of intellectual and political development. They were just 
as courageous, just as well trained as party workers, and 
shared equally with them in organization and the more danger- 
ous conspirative work. We often had political debates in the 
evening, "disputes," the Russians called them, without any 
appreciation of the humorous significance of the word, and fre- 
quently brilliant papers were read on various aspects of the 
political and economic situation. At other times we had musi- 
cal evenings, singing all the beautiful Russian prison songs 
and innumerable folk and student songs. Several of the girls 
played the balalaika very well and they accompanied the singers, 
also playing music for the folk dances which were often a 
feature of our impromptu performances. There was one pret- 
ty little Anarchist, only eighteen years old, who danced Cos- 
sack dances better than anyone I've ever seen off the stage. 
In a pair of blue bloomers, tucked into high boots, a red shirt 
and a black astrakhan cap, with her bobbed golden hair, she 
made a very picturesque boy, and her partner was a slender 
little slip of a dark girl who had been in prison for six months 
for complicity in an alleged Social Revolutionary plot, but had 
lost none of her high spirits. 


Several times we had birthday parties, once in honor of 
the wife of Victor Chernov, leader of the Right Social Revolu- 
tionaries, who escaped nearly a year before to Esthonia. Olga 
Alexievna Chernova was first arrested more than a year ago 
while her husband was still in Moscow, with her youngest 
daughter, who was but nine years old. After Chernov's 
escape to Esthonia she was arrested again and spent over six 
months in the Butierki prison, where she was one of the 
editors of the prison newspaper gotten out by the Socialists. 
In the early spring a riot took place among the Socialists in 
the Butierki, planned as a demonstration to encourage their 
comrades still at liberty. After this most of the men and 
many women were sent to provincial prisons, where they 
suffered untold hardships. Madame Chernova and several 
others were transferred to the Novenski. Madame Peschkova, 
the wife of Gorki, was much interested in trying to obtain 
permission for her and her children to leave Russia, but up 
to the time of my departure the Soviet authorities were obsti- 
nate in their determination to hold her indefinitely as a hostage 
for her husband. 

In spite of the fact that she had been in prison for nearly 
a year Olga Alexievna had lost none of her interest in life. At 
her birthday party she read a very clever poem, "taking off" 
each of the party groups among the politicals. We had a de- 
licious supper prepared by the two cooks appointed for the 
day, for the Socialists have a commune and pool all their pere- 
dachas. It was followed by games, speeches, and the presen- 
tation to Olga Alexievna of a number of prison-made birthday 
gifts. One of these was a work bag woven from the vegetable 
fiber which was used for hand scrubs in our Russian baths. 
On it was most artistically applied a little izha, or peasant's 
cottage, made of twigs picked up in the prison yard, with a 
roof of birch bark. The landscape was completed by an artistic 
grouping of trees made from sprigs of arbor vitse which grew 
in the prison yard. 

At our political meetings we discussed the new decrees, of 
which the most important were the "Prodnalog," or natural 
products tax, imposed on the peasants this year instead of the 


former system of requisitioning, the new wage scale and 
method of payment for factory workers, and the system of 
leasing factories to private capital, known as the "Arend" 
system. My Social Revolutionary friends believed that the 
government had by no means abandoned its plan of eventually 
establishing a Communist state in Russia, but they felt that 
the economic reforms being instituted would become perma- 
nent, as many of the Communists were gradually coming to 
realize that they could not proceed so far in advance of the 
rest of the world, that Russia could no longer maintain her 
position alone as the vanguard of the Revolutionary movement. 
She must give the rank and file time to catch up, as it were. 

The fact that no general amnesty was declared, they 
pointed out, indicated that the Communist Oligarchy was 
determined to hold the political power in its hands, that it would 
be a long time before Russia would be able to institute anything 
approaching a popular form of government. They were pro- 
foundly discouraged as to the outlook for independent party 
activity for the future, and for the most part bitterly opposed 
to the political activities of the emigres and plotters of all par- 
ties, outside of Russia, who, they said, had done far more 
harm than good by their abortive, ill planned conspiracies. 
They had great hopes from the then newly formed All-Russian 
Famine Relief Committee, but predicted just what has subse- 
quently happened, that unless all foreign relief was conducted 
through its agency, the Soviet Govermnent would find a pretext 
for putting it out of the way and arresting its most influential 

The interests of all the politicals were looked after by the 
political stdrosta, or chairman, who is elected on the creation 
of a vacancy, and continues in office until she is released from 
prison. Ours was an extremely keen, energetic Menshevik. 
It was her business to distribute the peredachas sent by the Po- 
litical Red Cross, and keep a list of those eligible for them, 
to give semi-legal advice to all the political prisoners, and to 
decide on matters of discipline and general policy. 

The Political Red Cross, of which I have spoken several 
times in the preceding chapters, is one of the most remarkable 


organizations in Russia. Despite its name, it is absolutely- 
unpolitical in character. Under the Czar it existed as an ille- 
gal organization for the purpose of giving assistance to all 
political prisoners. Under the Soviet Government it has only 
a semi-legal status, and receives no official support, being 
merely tolerated. Its members consist mainly of Bez Partini, 
non-partisans. Its funds are raised entirely by private subscrip- 
tion. In spite of many handicaps it has for the last two years 
sent weekly food packages to all the political prisoners in 
Moscow with the exception of those in the Checka. There it 
is only permitted to send collective per e dachas to be distributed 
to all prisoners alike, on Soviet or church holidays. In the 
other prisons its representatives are allowed to visit the politi- 
cals periodically. In addition to providing food the Red Cross 
supplies clothing and medicine and other necessaries to the 
prisoners. It also supplies counsel and legal advice to persons 
whose cases are about to come up for trial, furnishes funds and 
transportation to discharged prisoners who have been brought 
to Moscow from a distance and have no means of getting back 
to their homes, conducts a bureau of information to supply in- 
formation to the relatives of many persons who have been 
arrested and apparently disappeared, as to their whereabouts or 
their fate. The Political Red Cross also looks after all foreign 
nationals detained as prisoners, who are not being provided for 
by their own countrymen. 

The Anarchists while in prison received regular peredachas 
from their comrades, who had organized what was known as 
the "Black Cross." It was to me a very curious and signifi- 
cant fact that they should have chosen this name for their or- 
ganization. Acknowledging no code of laws, human or divine, 
they could find no better symbol for humanitarian work than 
the symbol of the Cross. On several occasions the Anarchists' 
peredachas were very wonderful, containing chocolate, coffee, 
jam, and other unheard-of luxuries. At the same time an 
account was published in the papers of a mysterious robbery of 
one of the government stores. I was told by several persons 
who knew that the peredachas of the Anarchists came from 
this source. 


Most of the Socialists were a very cheerful lot. Few of 
them were facing serious charges, nearly all being held in 
accordance with the general policy recently adopted by Lenin 
of keeping all the leaders of opposition parties under lock and 
key, but occasionally we were brought face to face with the real 
thing, as in the case of a friend of mine, who, with her hus- 
band, was accused of complicity in the Siberian peasant rebel- 
lion last February. They were taken to Omsk for trial. An- 
other was the tragic case of a young woman physician, a Left 
Social Revolutionary, who had been tried and condemned to 
death in Kharkov and was brought to Moscow for retrial in 
a dying condition from tuberculosis. A particularly pathetic 
feature of her story was that she had been living in safety 
in Switzerland at the beginning of the Revolution, and volun- 
tarily came to Russia, aflame with Revolutionary ideals, eager 
to help in the regeneration of her country. There are many 
like her, real Revolutionaries at heart, who are sacrificed by the 
inexorable Juggernaut they have set in motion. 

I did not stay long in the "otdelenye," as the main section 
of the prison is called. My cough grew steadily worse, I had 
a constant temperature, and the prison physician decided that 
I should be removed to the hospital. 


In the hospital I slept in a real bed for the first time in 
more than eight months. It was a pretty decrepit bed, and 
had a straw pallet instead of a mattress, but it was a bed for all 
that. The hospital diet, too, was far better than that in the 
prison proper. 

In the morning we received three-quarters of a pound of 
bread, two lumps of sugar or a small portion of honey, about 
half an ounce of butter, margarine or lard, three teaspoons ful 
of Soviet coffee, occasionally a tablespoonful of salted caviar, 
and every other day a handful of dried apples. The usual 
herring soup was often replaced by a meat broth, the second 
dish at our noonday meal was rice or mannaya kasha, a cereal 
similar to our cream of wheat, and we were given a good-sized 
portion of South American corned beef several times a week. 

The doctor was a most intelligent and sympathetic woman 
and the nurses were kindness itself. The dispensary was woe- 
fully lacking in medicines and supplies, but it was remarkable 
how well the staff managed with next to nothing. For ex- 
ample, there were two hypodermic needles and one syringe. 
With this equipment two hundred and forty-eight prisoners 
received the necessary cholera inoculations within three weeks, 
and I and a number of other prisoners were given daily injec- 
tions of arsenic. We had only one clinical thermometer, but 
the temperature of every patient was taken twice daily. Num- 
bers of prisoners not hospital patients received dispensary 
treatment or hospital rations, and there was a good dental 
clinic once a week. 

After all I had been through, the Novenski hospital, for all 
its deficiencies, was a haven of rest. There were only three of 
us in the cheerful little room I occupied, myself, a Polish lady 



who was accused of espionage, and our nianka, or attendant, 
a ruddy-faced buxom peasant girl as innocent looking as a 
baby. She was up for the third time, the first offense being 
the receiving of stolen goods, the second hiding a deserter, and 
the last, for which she was serving only a three-year sentence, 
for being an accessory to the murder of her own sister by her 
brother-in-law, whom she afterwards married. He was her 
second husband, the first having been killed in the war. A 
large framed lithograph of the latter adorned the wall of our 
room. In one corner of it was stuck a photograph of the 
former. She was lazy and an incorrigible thief, but kind- 
hearted, generous and impulsive. If we missed anything and 
remarked about it she would get down on her knees before the 
ikon in the corner, weeping copiously and howling like a der- 
vish, declaring that she had never taken as much as a kopeck's 
worth from anyone. At the same time if she had anything 
good to eat she always insisted that we should share it with 
her, and I couldn't help being fond of her in spite of everything. 
The attendants in the other two rooms of the hospital, one of 
which held twelve, the other six persons, were both professional 
thieves, one a railroad station pickpocket, the other a "Ma- 
dam" who made a business of robbing her clients. 

I was allowed absolute liberty in the hospital, with per- 
mission to spend the entire day in the yard if I chose, and I 
found talking to the criminals and studying their psychology 
a fascinating occupation. 

One of the most interesting types was Kousina, the queen 
of the Moscow Apaches, who had the record of having been 
arrested twenty-eight times, and of having served several 
terms in prison, though she was only twenty-three years old. 
She had twice escaped from prison. Her third attempt was 
an unsuccessful but almost extraordinary performance. Find- 
ing the Novenski a difficult place to get out of, she simulated 
insanity, with perfect success, and was sent to a hospital for 
the criminal insane. It proved just as hard to escape from as 
the Novenski, so she turned sane again, and demanded to be 
sent back there. Being refused, she resolved on what is known 
in prison as obstruction, but her method was unusual, to say the 


least, and certainly showed a great deal of physical courage 
and determination. She put a wad of newspaper on her chest, 
set fire to it and burned herself most horribly. "If you don't 
send me back, I'll do something worse next time," she said, 
and she was returned to the Novenski. 

She absolutely ruled the other criminals, they quailed be- 
fore her and she was merciless in punishing those who violated 
the prison code of ethics. Once she led a mob against a woman 
who was suspected of being a nasyetka (spy), and they beat 
her until she was rescued almost unconscious by the prison 
guards. She would never steal from anyone in prison, but her 
example was followed by few of the others. Stealing was 
the universal rule. The prisoners stole from the prison kitchen, 
from the workshop, where they made clothes on government 
contracts, and received half a pound of bread extra a day 
in payment, and they also stole from each other. Thefts, if 
discovered, were punished by beatings, face scratchings and 
hair-pullings, but the thieves were never informed on, even by 
the attendants, for most of them stole too if they got the 
chance. Nothing was safe. 

Once I took my bedding roll out into the yard to air, 
spread it on the grass, and sat down on a bench beside it to 
read. Two girls were lying in the grass near me, very inno- 
cently it seemed. I did not notice that they moved, but when 
I got up to go in the house I found that the canvas sheet which 
covered the pad had been torn off near the top and carried 
away. I afterwards saw slippers made of it being sold for a 
bread ration. 

A flourishing trade was always going on inside the prison, 
not only in stolen articles, but in food brought in from the 
outside, and it was possible to buy almost everything for money, 
also smuggled in, or for bread. Twenty-five cigarettes cost 
one bread ration, ten fresh eggs cost three bread rations, and 
you could have your laundry done for two. 

Other clandestine vices flourished too. Although cards 
were forbidden, there were plenty of decks, and gambling was 
universal. The women gambled away their bread rations, their 
peredachas, their clothing even. One woman I knew lost 


everything she had in one night, except her chemise, and the 
next morning she was compelled to get one of the prison 
dresses to wear. Unnatural forms of prostitution were also 

I don't know whether it is the case with a similar class of 
criminals in other countries, but most of those I met seemed to 
take a personal pride in their achievements. There were few 
who pretended to be either innocent or repentant, though most 
of them were very religious and attended church assiduously. 

The speculators formed a class all to themselves. Most of 
them were sordid and uninteresting, but there were a few pic- 
turesque characters, such as a brilliant woman engineer who 
had embezzled millions from the Supreme Economic Council, 
had been condemned to death, reprieved and finally sentenced 
to ten years in prison; and a young girl, who with several 
confederates had robbed the railroad administration of tons 
of supplies. She was such a capable executive, however, that 
she had charge of giving out all the supplies for the hospital. 

The most attractive inmates, for they could scarcely be 
called prisoners, were the children. There were at least twenty 
of them; from babies in arms to sturdy little boys and girls 
four or five years old. Many of them had been born in prison, 
others had been brought there with their mothers, the Soviet 
Government permitting them to keep their babies with them, 
if desired, until they reach the school age. From the point of 
view of the morale of the mothers it is an excellent thing, 
enabling them to lead something approaching a normal life, and 
the children do not fare badly by any means. They were given 
a special ration similar to our hospital ration, but with more 
fats ; children up to two years of age received milk daily. 

They were subjected to periodical medical inspection, and 
when ill were sent to a nearby children's clinic for treatment. 
Nearly all were rosy and healthy, and it was great fun to play 
with them in the yard. One, a small boy four years old, was 
a great chum of mine, and he always called me by the name 
by which I was known to the criminals — the "Afrikanka." 
Popular ideas as to geography and nationality are somewhat 
hazy in Russia. I was the only foreigner, and when I first 


arrived there were many speculations as to my nationality. 
One of the prisoners who had played in vaudeville with a 
troupe of negro minstrels announced that I had come from 
the same country. They were Africans, therefore I must be 
an African, too, in spite of the slight difference in complexion. 
The name stuck, notwithstanding all my explanations. 

Amusements were not altogether lacking in our prison rou- 
tine. There was a dramatic club, which gave performances 
of classic comedies nearly every Sunday. The government 
furnished the members a fixed monthly sum for the purpose of 
buying stage properties and make-ups. Occasionally we had 
a concert with outside artists from the best theaters, and there 
were often impromptu dances in the prison yard. 

There were also two social service workers, who super- 
vised the giving out of books from the library, distributed 
mail to prisoners and conducted several classes for illiterates. 
The pohtical prisoners were barred from taking part in the 
official amusements and activities of the prisoners. I think 
the government was afraid they might contaminate the crim- 

The prison kitchen was one of the most popular places. 
From early morning till late evening it was filled with 
women of all descriptions, who were allowed to do their own 
cooking. I often went there to make tea or prepare some 
special dish for myself. Everybody stood around the stove, 
keeping an eagle eye on her own skillet or saucepan. If you 
turned your head for an instant you might find it had disap- 
peared. Some of the dishes I saw cooked there were perfectly 
wonderful. One woman had twenty pounds of white flour 
sent to her and she made rolls, jam turnovers and tarts galore. 
Other women made delicious soups and ragouts and all the 
mothers prepared special food for their babies. It was well 
to keep a sharp lookout in the kitchen, for fights often occurred. 
Once I narrowly escaped being hit by a potful of hot soup 
that was thrown by one woman at another one just behind me. 
The privilege of using the kitchen was one that I greatly 
appreciated, for it was often possible to make very palatable 
dishes, even out of the regular prison rations. 


Among the prisoners was a small group of women the 
reason for whose detention I could never understand. With the 
exception of one, Mademoiselle Sheremetieva, a lady of distin- 
guished family, who belonged to an affiliated organization, 
they were all members of the Salvation Army. They were very 
simple women, absolutely devoid of political ideas, but they 
were accused of having been the tools of counter-revolutionary 
organizations, just how had never been explained to them. 
The opposition of the Communists to the established church on 
the grounds that it has always been used as a means for the 
enslavement of the masses, is perfectly understandable from 
their point of view, but to anyone who knows the purely unpo- 
litical and essentially proletarian character of the Salvation 
Army the world over, the arrest of its members on these 
grounds appears positively fantastic. The Salvation Armyites 
held a song service in one of the rooms in the "otdelenye" 
nearly every evening, and it often made me very homesick to 
hear the familiar melodies, such as "Onward Christian Sol- 
diers," "Throw Out the Lifeline," and many others sung in 
such a strange environment. 

So far I have described the better side of our prison life, 
and the more fortunate of the prisoners, but there was a very 
dark side indeed. The Novenski is used as a concentration 
point for prisoners in transit to internment camps, most of 
them what are known as Counter-Revolutionaries, and hun- 
dreds pass through every month on their way to distant points. 
It seems to be the policy of the Soviet Government to send those 
sentenced to internment as far away from their homes as pos- 
sible, which inevitably brings about unnecessary hardships. 
Families are often separated in a manner recalling the Ger- 
man deportations from Lille during the Great War; those 
interned are cut off from the possibility of receiving food 
supplies from their relatives still at liberty; delicate persons 
accustomed to the warm climate of Southern Russia are sent 
to the far North. 

There were a number of women from the Crimea, arrested 
as the aftermath of Wrangel's collapse, who were being sent 
to Archangel. Several of them were old ladies over seventy. 


One, who was the widow of a general, had been arrested be- 
cause her name had been found on a Hst of subscribers to the 
food cooperatives which existed under the Wrangel regime. 
Prisoners from Kiev and the Ukraine were on their way to 
Yaroslav. One day a mother with seven children, the youngest 
a two-year-old boy, the oldest a girl of seventeen years, ar- 
rived from Rostov en route for Perm. The entire family was 
being deported because the mother had hidden her son, who 
had been with the White Armies. The boy was found in the 
house and shot, the father had escaped and his wife had no 
idea as to his whereabouts or his fate. 

In justice to the Soviet Government, however, it must be 
stated that all cases are reviewed in Moscow before the pris- 
oners are sent on to their destination, with the result that 
some are released and sent back to their homes. 

We also had a number of prisoners who had been con- 
demned to death in the provincial Checkas on absolutely in- 
sufficient evidence. These were mostly espionage cases from 
White Russia or the Ukraine, and they had been rescued from 
death in the nick of time by inspectors from the Central Office 
of the Extraordinary Commission, who periodically visit the 
provincial prisons. Two young girls who had been saved in 
this manner had been condemned to death without trial at 
Moghilev on the testimony of a single individual, that they 
had been friendly with members of the Polish Commission 
at Vitebsk, and had spent a month in a condemned cell from 
which prisoners were taken nightly to be shot. They told me 
that every night before going to bed they put on clean clothes 
so that they might die decently. 

I was told by many of these prisoners that the food in most 
provincial prisons was utterly inadequate and prepared with- 
out the slightest regard for ordinary rules of hygiene. In 
many of the provincial prisons they got nothing but half a 
pound of bread a day and one bowl of soup. Men and women 
were kept in the same rooms, prisoners were often beaten by 
the guards. A Polish lady who came from Rostov told me 
that her husband had been shot two weeks after the signing 
of the treaty with Poland. Some of the prisoners from the 


provinces had been held for six or eight months simply be- 
cause their papers had been lost. Such conditions frequently 
exist in the "Gub Checkas," as the provincial Checkas are called. 
There much depends on the character of the individual com- 
missar or sledovatl. Some of them are utterly unfit for their 
jobs, others are very humane. I knew a Polish woman who that her life had been saved by her sledovatl at Vitebsk, 
The head of the local Checka was anxious to clean up the con- 
gestion of the prison and ordered a number of persons shot, 
herself among them, but the sledovatl insisted that he had not 
sufficiently looked into her case, and managed to hold it over 
by a series of dopros until the arrival of the agents of the 
Extraordinary Commission from Moscow. The government 
is doing all in its power to control this sort of thing, but so far 
it has only been partially successful. 

Among the transients were numbers of immigrants from 
White Russia and Poland who wished to resume their Rus- 
sian citizenship, and had crossed the frontier without papers 
or credentials. Many of them were destitute and virtually 
starving. Some had relatives in distant parts of Russia, others 
had simply wandered East from the war-devastated regions in 
search of work and food. The majority of these were soon 
sent to their destinations or to parts of the country where liv- 
ing ^conditions are comparatively good, under the supervision 
of the Commissariat of Labor. 

Altogether life in the Novenski was bearable and quite in- 
teresting. I had many good friends among the prisoners and 
on the prison stafif, only one member of which, by the way, as 
far as I could discover, was a Communist. During my stay 
there I had two visits from my sledovatl, the head of the 
American bureau of the Checka, the first shortly after my 
arrival when he came to inquire as to my health, and to see if 
I was in need of anything. Several times I asked for money 
to buy milk and eggs, and for the rest of my baggage, which 
had been sealed on my arrest, but this request was never 
granted. I had everything I needed, however, for my wants 
were cared for by my Russian friends, to whom I shall always 
owe an undying debt of gratitude. 


By the middle of July we had begun to realize from ac- 
counts in the papers that the famine situation was so serious 
that the Soviet Government would be utterly unable to cope 
with it, and all my friends insisted that it would not be long 
before I was released from prison. "Russia must accept help 
from foreign governments," they said, "and the first condi- 
tion for relief from America, will, of course, be the release of 
all prisoners." I had begun to have faint hopes, but I dared 
not acknowledge them even to myself. They had been stirred 
by the fact that Royal R. Keeley had been released from prison 
and I had, a week or so previously, received a small peredacha 
from him, with a message that he was well, stating that he 
would try to get permission to see me. This permission was 
not granted, nor was a note which he wrote delivered to me, 
but the fact that he had been released pointed to a more lenient 
attitude towards foreigners. 

Then one day, July twenty-third, to be exact, the very 
day, though neither he nor I knew it at the time, of the receipt 
of the Hoover offer on behalf of the American Relief Admin- 
istration, I had my first visit from anyone not a Soviet offi- 
cial, in more than nine months. It was from Senator Joseph 
I. France, of Maryland, my own state, of whose presence in 
Moscow I was not even aware, until I met him face to face. 
Senator France, who had been in Moscow for some weeks, 
had made repeated efforts to see me, and had interceded with 
Chicherin and Lenin on my behalf, though, up to that time, 
without any prospect of success. He had done this at the risk 
of considerable unpleasantness to himself as one of the condi- 
tions upon which he obtained, through the influence of German 
friends in Berlin, permission to visit Moscow, was that he 



should not meddle with the question of the American prisoners. 

Early in the afternoon 1 had a summons to go to the Com- 
mandant's office. There I found Kovalski, head of the 
American Bureau of the Checka. 

"I have brought you a visitor," he said; "I think you will 
be rather surprised to see who he is." At the same time he 
threw open the door of an inner room with a fine dramatic 
gesture, and I saw standing before me a tall man in a suit 
of real American clothes. It was curious that I should have 
noticed the clothes first, but I did, and then I recognized in- 
side of them Senator France, with whose appearance I was 
familiar from his pictures in the newspapers, though I had 
never before had the pleasure of meeting him. 

For a moment I was dazed — then came two curiously in- 
consequent thoughts, both of which I dismissed immediately. 
The first was, "Heavens, has the Senator run amuck and 
turned Bolshevik?" The next, "Perhaps, oh, perhaps, he has 
come to take me home." 

Meanwhile I heard myself in a far-away voice asking him 
quite composedly when he had arrived in Russia and where he 
was staying, casually as if we had met in the Senate Lobby 
at Washington. But Senator France went straight to the 
point, telling me in a few words that he had seen Lenin, Chi- 
cherin and Litvinov about my case, that they had until that 
morning given no encouragement, but that they now showed 
signs of relenting, and that if all went well, he might be able 
to take me home with him on the following Monday. Our 
talk was short, but I managed to get some news from him and 
to give him a number of messages for friends and relatives 
at home. 

After his departure and until Monday afternoon I did a 
great deal of thinking, all of which as it turned out, I might 
have spared myself. At first I was inclined to refuse to leave, 
even if he should be able to secure permission to take me with 
him, because I felt that I wished to remain in Russia until all 
the other prisoners were released. Then my Russian friends 
told me that it was quixotic and unpractical to have such no- 
tions — that if I got out of Russia I could do mi>ch to get the 


other prisoners out, and that I would be insane to voluntarily 
stay behind, where I could do them no good whatever. I was 
still weighing the matter in my mind when Monday came and 
went, without any word from Senator France. "There you 
see, fate has decided it for me anyway," I said to my room 
mate, and I resolutely put the idea of freedom out of my 
mind, and returned to prison routine. 

On Wednesday evening, July twenty-seventh, I was feeling 
rather ill, and was going to bed early, about ten o'clock, when 
Kovalski appeared alone and ordered me to pack my bags and 
accompany him to the Checka, saying that my case would be 
brought up for trial in the morning, but not hinting at the 
probable outcome. The nurse in the hospital refused to let me 
go out at night as I had a temperature at the time, so Koval- 
ski left, saying that he would return the next morning at nine 
o'clock. I was just about to turn in half an hour later when 
the door was abruptly thrown open, admitting two prison 
guards and a woman attendant, who searched me and my be- 
longings without a word of explanation, examining everything 
including my pillow and mattress most minutely, and taking 
every scrap of written or printed matter in my possession, 
among which, much to my regret, were the lovely prison songs 
I had been collecting and writing down with such interest 
during long months in the Checka. 

"What does this mean?" I gasped, when I had recovered 
from my astonishment, for though an ohiiisk, as the searches 
are called, are frequent in the Checka, they are rare at the 
Novenski, and I had done nothing to cause suspicion. 

"It means that you will be deported tomorrow," said one 
of the soldiers, a genial looking chap, with a broad kindly 
grin. At this the other, a severe looking personage in a black 
leather coat, annihilated him with a look, and I was unable 
to extract anything more from him. 

For the rest of the night sleep was impossible. I spent 
most of the time talking to my room mate, Pani Franziska, a 
dear elderly Polish lady. 

The next morning I got up early and packed all my be- 
longings, but the entire forenoon passed without a word from 


the Checka. This did not surprise me, as I was by this time 
thoroughly accustomed to Russian dilatoriness, I spent the 
morning talking with my intimate friends. My best friend 
was a Jewish woman who had been kindness itself to me. We 
had first been together in the Checka, and afterwards met at 
the Novenski. When I arrived there I was utterly unable to 
eat the prison food, and it was thanks to her that I managed 
to get back my strength. She received peredachas twice a 
week from her family, and always shared everything with me, 
even going to the extent of writing home and ordering sent 
her the dishes she thought would tempt my appetite. She 
provided me with toilet articles, linen sheets, soap, a real 
knife and fork and a glass to drink out of instead of the tin 
cup I had used so long. She was one of the most delightful 
persons I have ever met, and we spent many hours together, 
talking of art, literature and many other subjects. She was 
tremendously interested in Russian art, particularly the old 
ikons of which she had made an exhaustive study. In addition 
she was simple goodness and honor personified. In politics 
she was what is known as Bez Partini, but she had been ar- 
rested and held in prison for four months as a witness. Her 
continued detention was owing to the fact that she refused to 
give testimony which she felt might be damaging to other 
people in whose activities she had had no share. Most of 
my other friends were Social Revolutionaries, but I had one 
who was an Anarchist and another who was a Menshevik. 

I visited nearly all of the rooms in turn, saying good-bye to 
my friends among the criminals, who wished me luck, and 
suddenly I realized that a very close tie was about to be broken. 
Prison friendships are about the most real things in the world. 
People know each other as they are, without hypocrisy or 
concealment, and if they grow to care for each other under 
such conditions it is something that lasts. 

For some time before the motor came to take me to the 
Checka, which was not until early afternoon, we sat in my 
room, talking of past good times, making plans as to how I 
was to let them know if I was transferred to another prison, 
wondering as to when or where we would meet again, for we 


were quite sure that we would somehow. Then, when the 
attendant came to tell me that the motor had arrived, we all 
sat down, and for a minute there was silence, in accordance 
with the beautiful Russian custom of thus wishing godspeed 
to anyone who is about to set out on a long journey. Finally 
the stillness was broken by Pani Franziska, my Polish room 
mate, who made the sign of the cross on my forehead. "God 
bless you, my child," she said brokenly. It was hard for her 
to see me go, perhaps to freedom, for she had been in prison 
for fourteen months on a baseless charge of espionage, later 
disproved and she had been promised repatriation over two 
months before, but her papers had never been received by the 
Polish Repatriation Commission from the Checka. At the 
last I was nearly smothered under an avalanche of hugs and 
kisses, and deafened with the chorus of cheery Vsyo horo- 
schos, which meant literally "All's well," and Dos zddanye, 
the Russian for Au revoir, from half the inmates of the 
prison, who accompanied me to the door of the Command- 
ant's office, and peeped through the bars of his window to wave 
their hands in a last greeting. In spite of my hopes as to 
what the future had in store for me, it was hard to say good- 
bye to my Russian friends, to whom I could from the bottom 
of my heart apply that much abused word — Tovarischi — 

I found Kovalski waiting for me in the motor. He told 
me that if all went well he hoped to have good news for me 
later, but nothing more. On arriving at the Checka I was 
taken to the pridzwriteini, a detention room on the ground 
floor where prisoners awaiting commitment or cross-examina- 
tion are often held for several days. It was a long narrow 
room, filled with the wooden beds I have already described, 
but without the straw pallets given out to the regular pris- 
oners, and it was packed with homogeneous mass of human- 
ity, men and women of all classes and nationalities. People 
were lying two on a bed, and one enterprising individual had 
gone to sleep on a shelf high up on the wall. It was inde- 
scribably dirty, and there was only one window which afforded 
utterly inadequate ventilation for so many people. 


There, much to my surprise I met two acquaintances. One 
was a woman whom I had known at the Novenski, She was 
dying of tuberculosis, and literally fighting for every breath 
in the close atmosphere. In spite of her serious condition, she 
had been kept for three days, waiting for her dopros. The 
other was a Frenchman, whom I had met the previous sum- 
mer, when he had come to Moscow from Novorossisk, where 
he had started an import and export business between that port 
and Marseilles. He had been arrested on his third trip to 
Moscow to sign a contract with the Supreme Economic Coun- 
cil for the importation of general merchandise. His prin- 
cipals in France were unaware of his predicament, he had 
been in prison five weeks, without peredachas, without the pos- 
sibility of communicating with his friends in Novorossisk, and 
he was in wretched physical condition, but like a true French- 
man, he did not fail to apologize for his straggly beard and his 
collarless state. I also talked to a young Swiss boy, a Com- 
munist, who had no idea why he had been arrested, and a Ger- 
man Red Cross officer, who had been held in another prison 
for several months. 

Finally, after what seemed to me an endless wait, my name 
was called, and I was taken by an armed guard to the Ameri- 
can Bureau, where, instead of judges, I found Kovalski wait- 
ing for me with the papers which had been taken from me the 
night before. He asked me several questions about them, 
which I was able to answer satisfactorily, but he was evidently 
suspicious of some cross-stitch patterns I had drawn for my 
lace work. Finally he was convinced that they were not ci- 
phers, and then he told me that my release had been decided on, 
at the same time handing me an insignificant looking bit of 
paper, very like a department store check, but which was a 
written order for the release of ''Citizeness Garrison, Margar- 
ita Bernardovna, Number 2961." He told me that Senator 
France had delayed his departure in order to accompany me 
and that I was to leave with him for Riga that evening if an 
automobile could be procured to take me to the station. 

In a few minutes my former examiner, Moghilevski, came 
in to say good-bye, telling me at the same time that all other 


Americans would be released within a few days, but that as 
Senator France had been interested in my case, and had shown 
himself most sympathetic to the Soviet Government, I would 
be permitted to leave with him in advance of the others. 

"We have been enemies, it is true," he said, "but it was, 
as you realize, part of a big game. I hope that you feel that 
it was nothing personal and that some time, under happier 
auspices, you will come back to Russia." 

I assured him that I felt the same way, which was quite 
true, and added that I sincerely hoped I would come back 
under different conditions. It was rather amusing, I reflected, 
how the same expression could be used with equal sincerity 
by two individuals with radically different points of view, but 
I merely smiled, shook hands and said good-bye. Kovalski 
told me that it would be impossible for them to deliver my 
baggage, money and valuables at such short notice, but that 
they would be sent to me at Riga. I told him that I wished 
the money sent to the Political Red Cross for the relief of 
Russian prisoners, and signed a transfer, which he promised 
to deliver to the office of the Red Cross. Then I was taken 
back to the general waiting room, where I spent an anxious 
hour or so, for it was growing perilously near train time. 
Finally a soldier came to take me to a waiting automobile, in 
which I was whirled to the station, at the rate of about sixty 
miles an hour, arriving just seven minutes before the depar- 
ture of the train. 

The platform was filled with a hustling, jostling crowd 
of homegoing Letts, busy porters carrying trunks and boxes, 
preoccupied couriers with despatch cases, distinguished foreign 
visitors saying good-bye to commissars, Soviet officials, going 
abroad on various missions. I saw the tall figure of Senator 
France, which was easily distinguishable among them, and in 
a few seconds I was beside him. A few minutes later I was 
installed in a sleeping compartment, watching the receding 
station platform. 

We had a comfortable, though uneventful trip to Riga, 
arriving on the morning of the second day. The only incident 
that disturbed the composure of the Senator and myself was 


at the border, where we were held for about six hours for no 
apparent reason. I had known of so many instances where 
persons, who had been permitted to leave Moscow were re- 
arrested on the frontier that I did not quite believe in my 
good fortune until I was actually on Latvian soil. 

My first act after greeting the friends who came to meet 
me at Riga was to indulge in the luxury of a tub bath for the 
first time in nearly a year, my second was to buy a Rigan out- 
fit to replace the costume I had worn during my entire term 
of imprisonment, an exceedingly dirty suit of khaki cloth, a 
man's pongee shirt, a hat made in prison from the tail of the 
same shirt, and a pair of men's shoes sent me by the Czecho- 
slovak Red Cross. Then I had a real dinner. I sta3^ed in 
Riga for several days, after which the Senator and I left for 
Berlin, where I met many friends, among them Captain Coop- 
er who had come from Warsaw to meet me. Ever since his 
escape from Russia in April he had been working unceasingly 
for my release. The best news I had in Riga was the confir- 
mation of what I had already heard from Moghilevski : that 
owing to the Soviet Government's acceptance of the terms of 
Mr. Hoover's offer all the American prisoners would probably 
be in Riga within a week or ten days. In Riga I also saw 
lists of the packages containing food, clothing and toilet ar- 
ticles, which had been sent me during my imprisonment, none 
of which had ever reached me. 

In the few quiet moments I was able to snatch between 
calls, writing newspaper articles, and trips to the shops to re- 
plenish my scanty wardrobe, I looked back on the events of 
the past eighteen months, during which I had lived on black 
bread and kasha. From a material standpoint I had suffered, 
it was true, but I felt that I had gained immeasurably from 
another point of view. I knew the heart of Russia, and no 
one in these troublous times of transition can ever know it 
unless he lives with the Russian people both in and out of 
prison. I had gained a just perspective, and I felt that I 
understood all that is good and all that is bad, and all that is 
historically inevitable in the great upheaval which is, in spite 
of everything, modernizing Russia. 


Though this is an afterword, it is by no means an after- 
thought. It is rather a summary of the thoughts that have 
been running through my mind while I have been setting down 
what I saw and heard during eighteen months in Soviet Russia, 

It seems to me that the world at large has overlooked an 
all-important fact in considering the Russian Revolution — its 
beginning, its present form and its development are following 
a logical historical, evolutionary process. The great powers 
of the world have done all that they possibly could to hinder 
this evolution by blockades, intervention and intrigue. They 
have never done the obvious thing as far as Russia's internal 
politics are concerned, which is to let them alone. By isolating 
Russia they have brought about the very thing they were 
trying to prevent, a prolongation of the Communist dictator- 
ship and postponement of the process of evolution. 

No one can understand the situation in Russia without 
realizing what is actually the case, that two revolutions have 
taken place in that country. In the towns a small minority, 
less than ten per cent, in all of the population, have made a 
proletarian revolution, conducted by the class conscious work- 
ers with Karl Marx as their God, and Lenin as his prophet. 
The remaining ninety per cent, have made an agrarian revolu- 
tion, they have done away with the feudal system and have 
gained possession of the land. The vast majority of them are 
illiterate, haunted by the traditions of serfdom, suffering from 
the shock of seven years of war, blockade, and internal dis- 
order, with a capacity for endurance that is utterly incompre- 
hensible to Western minds, utterly devoid of political opinions, 
patriotism, or a sense of racial unity. Ask the average Rus- 
sian peasant what he is. He will answer — not that he is a 
Russian, not that he belongs to any political party, but simply 
that he is a person — Ya chelovyek. He is inherently op- 



posed to Communism, for as a matter of fact he knew some- 
thing of a form of village Communism under the Czar. It 
meant that the land belonged to the village, not to him, and 
it was parcelled out to him by the village Mir or Zemstvo 
Council. Now he has his land, and he intends to keep it. 
Bolshevism is bad, because the Bolsheviks make requisitions; 
they shut up the cooperatives ; he can no longer get tea, sugar, 
salt, boots and clothes, seeds and farm implements; but Czar- 
ism was worse, because then he did not have the land. Of 
the two extremes, therefore, he prefers Bolshevism to Czarism. 
Discontent with existing conditions will drive him to sporadic 
revolt, but as long as he is left alone and has a voice in his 
village Soviet, he does not care what kind of central govern- 
ment there is in Moscow. It is despotic, yes, but then he has 
always been accustomed to some form of despotism. If he 
cherishes any personal resentment against the government it 
is because he believes it is a government of and by the Jews. 
The dominant political factor in Russia today is fear of anar- 
chy. Few of the peasant uprisings that have taken place in 
Russia or Siberia within the past few years have been the 
result of any concerted political movement, but rather of local 

The more intelligent of the peasants are beginning to grope 
in a vague way towards the idea of a representative form of 
government. They realize dimly that they are the real pro- 
letariat of Russia, that they are represented in the proportion 
of one to one hundred and twenty-five thousand in the All 
Russian Council of Soviets, while the town proletariat is rep- 
resented by one to twenty-five thousand. This, to them is 
radically wrong — some day it must all be changed. The 
Social Revolutionaries are preaching this doctrine, and winning 
converts through the Peasant Unions, but so far they have 
not been able to organize the vast masses of the peasant pop- 
ulation, partly through the ban on free press, free speech, and 
the all powerful police organization of the Communists, partly 
owing to the apathy and inertia of the peasants themselves, and 
their lack of class solidarity. 

Universal education, particularly the abolition of illiteracy 


in the Red Army, will eventually act as a boomerang against 
the Bolshevist Government by teaching the peasants to think 
for themselves, but this will be a long and a tedious process. 
Until it is completed there will be no possibility of establishing 
the government which I believe to be best suited to the needs 
of Russia — a democratic federation of sovereign states, held 
together by a national assembly, elected by universal suffrage, 
on the principle of direct representation. This state will prob- 
ably have many socialistic features, comprising the socializa- 
tion of key industries and a widespread cooperative system. 
There will be a uniform system of free education and social 
maintenance, and there will be laws restraining the concentra- 
tion of capital in the hands of a few individuals, but the rights 
of private property will be respected. 

Meanwhile Russia will, for some time, necessarily be a 
prey to minority government. The question is, whether it is 
better to have the country ruled by a Communist or a Reac- 
tionary oligarchy. Of the two evils I believe the former is 
the lesser one. The Communists, numbering perhaps three 
quarters of a million in all, of whom probably ten per cent, are 
absolutely sincere and devoted Marxists, are in complete con- 
trol of the governmental apparatus, and if they were swept 
away tomorrow there is no party which is prepared to take 
their place. They exercise iron discipline in a country where 
discipline is an unknown quantity. Backed by the best or- 
ganized secret police and the best propaganda service in the 
world, they have suppressed all expression of free opinion, 
and legalized party opposition. 

The leaders of the Communist party are mostly men who 
have lived a large part of their lives in Western Europe or 
America and have studied the organization of party machines 
in all countries. They have always known what they wanted 
and have had a program when other parties were in a chaotic 
condition. Their big men are undoubtedly idealists, working 
with altruistic aims for what they believe to be the good of 
humanity, but on the Jesuitic principle that the end justifies 
the means, and in accord with Marxian philosophy which re- 
jects all bourgeois ethics. 


It must be remembered that these are men who all their 
lives have been hounded and persecuted, and they have, in 
many respects, distorted values. They are the exponents of 
the second stage of every revolution. First must come the 
work of preparation. The men and women who prepared 
the Revolution have long since been swept away and are living 
in exile or confined in Russian prisons. The men who occupy 
the center of the stage today are the iconoclasts, whose work 
is to destroy, the new broom that sweeps clean, the scalpels 
that have cut deep into the old order and removed the sound 
flesh in order to get at the source of the disease. The men 
who will come next will be the reconstructionists, and little by 
little, the iconoclasts will give place to them. Until this comes' 
about by a process that is historically inevitable, there will be 
no government in Russia any better than the present one. 

The universal corruption, the many acts of cruelty and the 
parasitic growth of the new bourgeoisie since the beginning 
of the Revolution are not all to be laid at the door of the Com- 
munist party. They are partly due to the inheritance of Czar- 
ism, partly to the tendency of all undesirable elements to come 
to the surface in times of universal demoralization and revolu- 

Russia is essentially an agrarian country; its future pros- 
perity will be dependent on the good-will and cooperation of 
the mass of peasants who form the agrarian population. In 
order to reconcile the two opposing elements of town and coun- 
try and to put the nation on a sound social and economic basis, 
it will be necessary for the Revolution to go back many steps 
over the road it has travelled. That many of the Communist 
leaders recognize this fact is shown by the development of dis- 
tinct Right and Left wings, within the party, by the tendency 
against centralization and bureaucratism and by the opportun- 
ist policy of Lenin, who in an effort to preserve the political 
balance of power is coquetting with the bourgeoisie and fight- 
ing the other socialist parties. 

The dictatorship of the Communist party has been con- 
tinuously strengthened during the past four years by the many 
attempts at intervention. I cannot too strongly emphasize 


the fact which I have tried to bring out in the preceding pages, 
that the men and women of varying poHtical opinions, who 
have quietly carried on in Russia throughout the Revolution, 
are, for the great majority, of the opinion that the ultimate 
form of government in Russia must be worked out by a grad- 
ual process of evolution. They are the people who have kept 
the schools and universities going, furnished the bulk of offi- 
cers for the Red Army and of physicians for the public health 
service, the agricultural experts who have helped to avert a 
still more ghastly famine, the factory experts who have kept 
alive what is left of Russia's industries, the engineers who 
are running the mines and the railroads. They have developed 
a new nationalism based on real patriotism, a quality which 
hitherto has never existed in Russia, and they are opposed to 
intervention in any form or to the forcible overthrow of the 
Soviet Government. 

It has been said that aid to Russia through Soviet con- 
trolled institutions will have the effect of strengthening the 
Communist party by making the people believe they owe the 
improvement in conditions to the present regime. The effect 
in my opinion, will be just the opposite. Famine relief and 
contact with the outside world will strengthen the morale of 
the Russian people and give the few men who are capable of 
undertaking opposition party activities sound human material 
to work on. At the same time it will help to accelerate the 
changes which are taking place within the Communist organi- 
zation itself and will force the Bolsheviks to undo with their 
own hands, much of what they have already done. 

So much for the political factors which are making for 
evolutionary changes, and now for the economic factors which 
are for the present, the more important of the two. 

Inheriting an unsound economic fabric, weakened by the 
Great War, the civil war and the blockade, hampered by em- 
bryonic industrial and trades union development and a back- 
ward agrarian population, the Communists have completed 
the ruin already begun, by the introduction of an economic 
system which, even if it is admitted that it is practicable, as the 
basis on which to run a prosperous government, presupposes 


a highly developed industrial organization and a large class- 
conscious mass of industrial workers. Even under highly 
favorable conditions they could never have succeeded, in my 
opinion, in establishing a sound Communistic state in Russia, 
though their tremendous dynamic energy and their remarkable 
educational propaganda might have produced somewhat bet- 
ter results. 

No private individual or corporations can hope to derive 
immediate profit from trade with Soviet Russia, but there is 
danger that if the great powers do not come to the aid of Rus- 
sia the present economic collapse will be followed by a collapse 
of the entire political and social system with a tendency to 
revert to utter anarchy. The good features of the Soviet Gov- 
ernment will be swept away with the bad and Russia will lapse 
into barbarism. Personally I believe that state capitalism will 
be the next development in Russia. The new decrees, while 
permitting the development of private capital, still uphold the 
principle of state ownership; therefore, the only adequate pro- 
tection for foreign interests doing business in Russia will be 
afforded by a de facto recognition by all the great powers, the 
appointment of general commercial agents with consular 
powers and the guaranteeing against loss of all interests un- 
dertaking trade with, or internal development in Russia, by 
means of national or international organizations under the 
official protection of a single government or an aggregation of 

Frankly, I have no idea as to how this can be brought about, 
but it can and must be done if the world is ever to get out of 
the present tangle. The Russian Government has not the 
money to furnish large credits ; no satisfactory working basis 
has as yet been found for concessions ; the supply of raw mate- 
rial for exchange is insignificant. Obviously the first thing to 
do is to devise some scheme for the reconstruction of Russia's 
transportation system, for without the railroads nothing can 
be done. Eventually it is impossible that some profitable way 
of doing business with a hundred and fifty million people liv- 
ing in a country which is probably richer in natural resources 
than any country in the world, and which needs everything 


from locomotives to shoe strings, cannot be found. The soon- 
er this is done the sooner will the inevitable political readjust- 
ment between the agrarian and proletarian revolutions be made 
in Russia. 

From an international standpoint immediate foreign aid to 
Russia is even of greater importance. Such action by all the 
great powers will help to prevent a world economic crisis by 
opening new markets ; it will assist in normalizing labcr con- 
ditions and allaying the present industrial and social unrest, 
and it will do away with many of the delusions as to condi- 
tions in Russia, which have been fostered in the minds of the 
working class the world over by Communist propaganda to 
which Russian isolation has been a powerful ally. If the Bol- 
sheviks succeed in building up their social, political and eco- 
nomic fabric, it will be, even with every outside assistance, a 
lengthy process, to be achieved only at the price of the sacri- 
fice of many basic principles. Such a process of evolution is 
not likely to put strong arguments in the hands of the advo- 
cates of world revolution. 

For the present, however, it is impossible to accord dip- 
lomatic recognition to a government which has, as its ac- 
knowledged object, the promotion of armed revolution in the 
countries with which it seeks to make diplomatic treaties. The 
promises of the Soviet Government in this respect are not 
worth the paper they are written on, as long as the Central 
Committee of the Third International guides the world revo- 
lution from Moscow. 

There is a strong tendency among the radicals in all coun- 
tries to break away from the dictation of Moscow. There 
were many quarrels and bickerings at this year's meeting of 
the Third International. The differences among the German 
and Italian Communists were thoroughly aired to the public, 
and there was a no less sturdy tendency towards independence 
in the matter of tactics among various other national groups, 
such as the Jewish Bundists, the Finnish Communists, the 
British, the French and Americans. These differences were 
still more marked in the congress of the Red Trades Union 
International, which was only just able to save its face and 


preserve a semblance of unity. All these indications point to 
a weakening of the power of Moscow in the international rev- 
olutionary movement. It is possible in the not too distant fu- 
ture that the Russian Communists will be forced by radical 
opinion in other countries to give up their idea of a world 
propaganda directed from the Kremlin. 

De facto recognition and trade with Russia will give 
an opportunity to prove the sincerity of the moderate Com- 
munists who claim that their world propaganda is largely a 
measure of self defense against the bourgeois governments 
who are bent on bringing about an internal economic, social and 
political collapse in Russia — that, given peace and a chance 
for peaceful development, they are willing to stop stirring up 
trouble in Asia, South America, Europe and the United States. 

We may as well recognize the fact that the Germans will 
eventually dominate Russia commercially and perhaps eco- 
nomically. At present in their desperate financial situation 
German business men are willing to take chances and embark 
on enterprises which the large interests in other countries are 
unwilling to undertake. They have nothing to lose and every- 
thing to gain from the exploitation of Russia and they can 
afford to wait for returns. 

But there is a political side to the situation. Things may 
not remain as they are in Germany. If the country swings 
more to the right, there will be a renascence of militarism, 
the desire for revenge on England, the old Berlin-to-Bagdad 
dream. I have told how I saw in Russia more than a year 
ago evidences that many Germans have not altogether aban- 
doned it. There will be an attempt at political domination 
with a view to utilizing the vast man power and natural re- 
sources of Russia to bring about the "Day," which many 
Germans regard as only postponed for a matter of ten years 
or so. 

On the other hand, if Germany ever goes Red the Ger- 
mans will practice Communism with deadly efficiency. It will 
be quite a different matter from Communism in Russia and 
they will introduce their brand into that country. 

The English think they have found an antidote to all this, 


and to the old bugbear of Russian ascendency in Asia, which 
might threaten their colonial possessions and their political 
supremacy on that continent, in their policy of Balkanizing 
Russia. The trend of British statesmanship is to permanently 
weaken the former Russian Empire by dividing it into a num- 
ber of relatively small independent states, which will be easier 
to exploit commercially and politically. That is the meaning 
of their support of various efforts at intervention, which has 
always been withdrawn at the critical moment. The British 
do not want any side to come out on top. The French are 
only looking for one thing in Russia — gold. 

What then should be the policy of the United States? We 
distinctly want a strong and a united Russia. The United 
States is the only country which can look at the Russian ques- 
tion dispassionately at the present time. It has no political 
axe to grind in Europe, no need to exploit the natural resources 
of Russia, for its own are just as great. It needs new markets 
and new routes of trade, orders for its idle factories, cargoes 
for its great fleet of rusting ships. 

The whole matter may be summed up as follows : We may 
not like the Soviet Government, but it is a real government. 
To refuse to help and continue to isolate Russia will have the 
effect of completing the economic ruin of the country, with the 
consequent reaction upon world economics, of strengthening 
the political dictatorship of the Communist party, pushing them 
still further in their tactical program of promoting world rev- 
olution, and perhaps of finally driving them in desperation to 
military aggression. The eventual outcome will be anarchy 
or possibly a reaction far more bloody and far more terrible 
than the Communist regime. The only way to bring about a 
government in Russia which will represent the will of the great 
mass of the people is to give them a chance to develop the 
moral force to express that will in action. This can only be 
done by giving them peace and food. It is up to the Ameri- 
can people to give them that chance. Therefore I believe that 
our only sane policy from the political and the economic as 
well as from the humanitarian standpoint is cooperation to 
the fullest possible extent with the Soviet Government. 



The sovereign governing authority is the All Russian Con- 
gress of Soviets, consisting of representatives of Town So- 
viets and of the provincial congresses of Soviets. The for- 
mer are represented in the proportion of one per twenty-five 
thousand electors, the latter one per one hundred and twenty- 
five thousand inhabitants. The All Russian Congress meets 
twice a year and appoints a Central Executive Committee of 
up to two hundred members. The Central Executive Commit- 
tee is a continuous body and appoints the Council of People's 
Commissaries, which is the principal governing authority. 

The President of the All Russian Congress of Soviets is 
M. Kalenin. Nikolai Lenin (Ulianov) is Chairman of the 
Central Executive Committee and Ex Officio of the Council 
of the People's Commissaries. 

The People's Commissariats, sixteen in number, with the 
Commissars holding office in August of this year, are as fol- 


People's Commis- Assistant People's 
Commissariat sary Commissars 

1. War L. D. Trotzki Sklyanski 

2. Internal Affairs F. E. Djerzhinski M. F. Vladimirski 

3. Justice D. I. Kurski Not known 

4. Ways and Communica- J V. M. Sverdlov 

t'«"s F. G. Djerzhmski | Borisov 

5. Finance N. M. Krestinski S. E. Chutskaev 

6. Education A. V. Lunacharski M. N. Pokrovski 

7. Posts and Telegraphs. . . A. M. Lyubovich Not known 


8. Public Health M. A. Semashko Z. P. Soloviev 

9. State Control (Work- 

ers' and Peasants' Con- 
trol) I. V. Stalin A. V. Avanesov 










People's Comtnis- 
Commissariat sary 

Nationalities (Non-Rus- 
sian Nationalities of 

Russia) I. V. Stalin 

Agricultural A. P. Sereda 

Labor and Social Wel- 
fare V.V.Schmidt 

Foreign Afifairs G. V. Chicherin 

Food A. D. Tsyuryupa 

Foreign Trade l. B. Krassin 

Supreme Council of Peo- 
ple's Economy Bogdanov 

Assistant People's 

N. Narimanov 
N. N. Osinsky 

A. N. Vinokurov 
L. M. Karakhan 
N. P. Vryukhanov 

A. M. Lezhava 

V. P. Milyutin 
G. I. Lomov 


Both the members of the Central Executive Committee 
and the People's Commissars are elected for three months, 
but the People's Commissars can be recalled or superseded at 
any time by the Central Executive Committee. 

The local Soviets, which constitute the basic units of the 
whole system and are at the same time the organs of local 
government, are grouped according to successive areas of ad- 

1. Town Soviets of one per one thousand inhabitants elected by 
factories, wards, trades unions and parties. 

2. Village Soviets of one per one hundred inhabitants which com- 
bine to form district (Volost) and County (Uyezd) congresses 
of Soviets on a basis of one per one thousand inhabitants. 

3. Provincial (Gubernia) or Regional (Oblast) Congresses of 
Soviets, elected by both town and country Soviets. 

The Soviet Republic at present includes thirty-nine prov- 
inces, of which nineteen are classed as Autonomous Federated 
Republics with complete freedom in the matter of local self- 
government. The largest of these is the Ukrainian Republic 
with Kharkov as its capital. Rakovski is Chairman of the 
Central Executive Committee of the Ukrainian Republic. The 
next most important is the Tartar Republic with Kazan as its 

Electoral rights in Russia are extended to all persons over 
eighteen who "earn a living by productive work or by work 
of social usefulness." No distinction is made between Rus- 


sians and aliens; excluded are "employers, persons living on 
investments, traders, monks, clergy, members of the former 
Russian reigning house, officials and agents of the police forces 
of the old regime, lunatics, minors and criminals." Political 
parties to participate in elections must recognize the Soviet 
authority. At the present time the only party except the Com- 
munist party which nominates candidates is the Menshevik 

Economic: By the constitution of the Soviet Republic 
private property in land is declared abolished, all land being 
the common property of the people. Up to the present time, 
however, nationalization of the land exists only in principle, 
the peasants retaining possession of the land distributed to 
them after the October Revolution. All forests, mines and 
waters of national importance as well as all live stock and fix- 
tures, model estates and agricultural concerns, are declared na- 
tional property. All factories, works, mines, railways and 
other means of production and transport are brought under 
the Commissariat of Factory Control and the Supreme Eco- 
nomic Council with a view to their complete trans ferance to 
the Soviet Republic. 

The Supreme Economic Council is the controlling authority 
in production and distribution. Its members are appointed in 
agreement with the All Russian Central Council of Trades 
Unions. Under it are Central Industrial Departments appoint- 
ed by the Supreme Economic Council in agreement with the 
Central Committees of the corresponding trades unions. Lo- 
cal organizations reproduce the same scheme with District 
Economic Councils and District Economic Departments. The 
actual management of the factories was at first in the hands 
of Boards, but these have since, in most cases, been replaced 
by one-man management. 

Recent decrees have licensed the leasing of factories to 
private individuals or cooperative organizations. The govern- 
ment exacts an initial license fee and a fixed tax on the gross 
receipts. The operators must conform to the regulations of 
the Code of Labor Laws. 

The Commissariat of Labor, which is controlled by the 


Trades Unions, fixes wages and labor conditions under the gen- 
eral provisions of the Code of Labor Laws. The Code of 
Labor Laws makes work compulsory for all males between 
the ages of sixteen and fifty, all females between the ages of 
sixteen and forty, except for medical reasons. Those who are 
ill or unemployed are entitled to remuneration at their usual 
rate of wages during the time they are not working. 

Education is compulsory to the age of sixteen or until 
the completion of what would in America be considered as 
high school education. University courses and special tech- 
nical courses are open to all who desire to avail themselves of 
them. University students receive free lodgings, fixed food 
rations and a small monthly stipend. 

Justice is administered in Russia by means of the People's 
Courts and Revolutionary Tribunals. Military tribunals and 
the praesidium of the Extraordinary Commission have the 
power to judge cases of espionage, counter-revolution and de- 


The Bolsheviks who, since the dissolution of the Constitu- 
ent Assembly in 191 8 have adopted the name of the Communist 
party. The Communist party at present exercises complete 
and absolute dictatorship in Russia. The programs adopted at 
its congresses constitute the government programs, and it is 
the nerve of contact between the government and the Trades 
Unions, Soviets, and other organizations. Membership involv- 
ing as it does both burdens and powers is jealously guarded. 
Access is not made easy, discipline is severe and expulsion 
frequent. The present membership is stated to be seven hun- 
dred thousand. They believe in the dictatorship of a prole- 
tarian minority composed of class-conscious workers. They 
are Marxists. 

The Mensheviks are also Marxists like the Communists, 
but they differ with them as to tactics, being in favor of more 
power for the Trades Unions, less centralization and more 
freedom of speech and action. They are a small group. At 


present they are virtually disfranchised and their leaders, Mar- 
tov and Abramovitz, are in exile. 

The Left Social Revolutionaries approach the Bolsheviks 
very closely in their belief that the dictatorship of the Prole- 
tariat must be imposed by force, but they would have the chief 
power vested in the Soviets and not in a Centralized govern- 
ment. They believe in the socialization of all industries. Their 
leaders were Kankov and Spiridonova. At present their status 
is illegal as is that of 

The Right Social Revolutionaries. They interpret the 
word "Proletariat" in its broader sense to include all workers, 
particularly the peasants. They believe in an organization 
of Trades and Peasants' Unions for economic and industrial 
administration, and in the vesting of the governing authority 
in a national assembly, elected by universal suffrage. They 
favor socialization of essential industries, extensive develop- 
ment of the cooperative system and the licensing, under certain 
restraint, of private enterprise and capital. Their leader, 
V. Chernov, is in exile, their prominent members are all in 
prison. Numerically the Right Social Revolutionaries are the 
largest of the opposition Socialist parties. 

Anarchists recognize no form of government, but they are 
divided into two factions, those who believe that Communism 
is a necessary stage in the development of Anarchism and 
those who believe in putting it in practice by force. They are 
especially numerous in the Ukraine and in the neighborhood 
of Saratov. Their status is also illegal. 

The Poalei Zion and the Bund are both Jewish Social Dem- 
ocratic or Marxist parties. The former cooperate with the 
Bolsheviks, the latter are divided into two factions of which 
one is in thorough sympathy with the Soviet Government, 

Non-Socialist parties are non-existent as such. A few 
groups of Cadets and Constitutional Democrats still exist, but 
they are numerically insignificant and politically inactive. 
There is no organized Monarchist party. 



Trades Unions, though nominally independent, are part of 
the Soviet State. 

Membership, December, 1920, 5,222,000. 

The structure of the Russian Unions is based on the fac- 
tory as a unit. Each factory has its committee, and this is the 
local unit of the union. These factory or shop units are grouped 
into industrial Unions with the factory as the basis, no mat- 
ter what a man's trade. Entrance fee, half day's pay, sub- 
scription two per cent, of the pay. Membership is virtually 
obligatory. The Unions are as follows : 
























Soviet Institutions 


Public feeding and housing 








Metal industries 




Communal Services 






Finance Department 


Postal Services 


The Russian Cooperatives, the organs of distribution, 
work under State Control. Each district has a Cooperative 
Society, "Soyous," on which state or local authorities are rep- 
resented. The franchise is identical with the political fran- 

All Cooperative Societies come under the Control of the 
Centrosoyous, which in 1920 was composed of ten members 
appointed by the government and eight electoral members. 

Shares of individual members of the old cooperatives have 
been repaid to them, the value being insignificant, however, 
owing to the depreciated currency. Credit Societies are under 
the Nationalized People's Bank. 

Recent legislation has restored a measure of independence 
to the cooperatives by permitting them to deal with peasants 
on an exchange basis and to buy and sell goods at fixed prices. 


Santa Barbara 


Series 9482 



A A 000 315 420