Exhibition "12 hours and 40 minutes of democracy"

The State Historical Museum of Russia (the web-site is only in Russian) has launched the exhibition "12 hours and 40 minutes of democracy". 90 years ago, on 18 January (5 January Old Style) 1918 the Constituent Assembly opened in Petrograd. The sitting continued for 12 hours and 40 minutes and was dissolved by the bolsheviks (I wrote about the these events in January 19 in Russian history a year ago).

The exhibition features the documents describing the first free and general elections in Russia and the Assembly itself: the election leaflets and banners, letters of the electors to the candidates, photographs and protocols of the Assembly, black and white balls used to elect the chairman, list of the people killed during the manifestation of support to the Assembly, the drawings made by the painter Yu. Artsybushev who attended the sitting and many more. One of the exhibits that really convey the spirit of those days is the banner of the SR party (socialist revolutionaries) calling people to join the manifestation of support and the leaflet of the Petrograd Soviet of the Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies glued right above the banner calling to ignore the manifestation.

The exhibition will work for one month, since 30 January till 30 March. The article on the web-site of the State Historical Museum in Russian is here. This is one of those rare occasions when I'm sorry I don't live in Moscow. :(


January 30 in Russian history


Soviet balloon Osoaviakhim-1 reached the record altitude — 22,000 metres. The earlier world records were achieved by Auguste Piccard. In 1931 he and Paul Kipfer reached 15,785 metres and in 1932 Piccard and Max Cosyns ascented to 16,200 metres. In 1933 Soviet aeronauts Georgy Prokofyev, Konstantin Godunov and Ernst Birnbaum on balloon SSSR-1 (USSR-1) reached 19,000 metres. Newspaper Pravda wrote: "On the American balloon that was the first to ascent to the stratosphere there were large letters: Piccard. It was a flight of one man who sought fame for himself. The soviet balloon that flew to 19 kilometres was titled SSSR-1 and this meant that the whole country participates in the flight."

The SSSR-1 was made by the Soviet Air Force. At the same time, a group of engineers from Osoaviakhim (volunteer Society for Assistance to Defense, Aviation and the Chemical Industries of the USSR) were building another balloon. The volume of the balloon was 24,940 cubic metres. The construction was not sponsored by the state. Instead, Osoaviakhim published a brochure titled "To the stratosphere!" and sold it for one ruble, quite expensive for those years. The brochure was sld out in one day. Actually, the factories obliged their workers to buy it. In summer 1933, when the balloon was ready, a commission from Moscow banned the flights, since the construction was too dangerous. So, the commission criticized the escape hatch. To open the hatch, the pilots had to unscrew 24 nuts. In SSSR-1 it took only 5 seconds to turn a handle and open the hatch. Besides, the hatch was located at the top of the gondola. The speed of the ballast release was too low, it took more than one hour to release one ton of the lead shrapnel. The hooks that held the slings attaching the gondola to the balloon were too weak. In spite of all these and other problems, the engineers decided to launch the balloon.

There were three people in the crew. Pavel Fedoseyenko was the commander. He was interested in aeronautics since 1915. During the Civil war he commanded an aeronautic detachment and committed more than 100 reconnaissance flights on balloons. After the war he graduated from the Air Forces Academy and the dirigible building faculty of the Civil Air Fleet Institute. Alexander Vasenko was the chief designer of the balloon. He graduated a prestigious gymnasium in Tsarskoye Selo near St.Petersburg. He was a good opera singer and could make a career in the theater, but he preferred to become an engineer. He entered the airways faculty of the Petrograd Institute of Communication Engineers and defended the thesis "The prospects of the atmosphere exploration with dirigibles". He taught in the Leningrad Military Technical School and then joined the Osoaviakhim-1 project. And the third one was Ilya Usyskin. He was born in Yaroslavl oblast in the family of a blacksmith. His father was a bolshevik who was exiled to Yaroslavl. Since childhood Ilya was a good mathematician. He was also interested in foreign languages and at the age of 14 he could read "Faust" by Goethe in German. When studying in the Leningrad Physical Technical Institute, he wrote two works on the difraction of fast electrons. "If someone asks me many years later, what did I do in the years of the first five-year plan, I will reply: "I studied the space radiation." I know that my country needs my work, but when I read of the coevals who build blast furnaces in Magnitka or roof the factory sections at the STZ factory, I want to be with them." The main objective of the Osoaviakhim-1 was the exploration of the space radiation and it was Usyskin's job.

The balloon was launched at 9:07 am, January 30, 1934. On the same day the XVII congress of VKP(b) (the Communist party of Russia) opened in Moscow. At 9:16 the crew sent the first radio. At 9:32 they reported of problems with the radio, they couldn't hear the messages from the command center. At 10:14 they reached 19,000 metres. At 11:16 Osoaviakhim-1 was at 20,500 metres and at 11:59 the commander sent the welcoming message to the congress of the Communist party. It was the last message from the balloon. This message was read on the congress and was met with the exclamations: "Glory to the Politbureau of the Central Committee! Glory to comrades Stalin and Kirov!"

The following events were recorded by Alexander Vasenko in the log. 12:33 — Osoaviakhim-1 reaches 22,000 metres. 12:45 — descent started. The investigation later said that they spent too much time at this altitude. The balloon, heated by the sun, refused to go down and one the crew released the gas for three minutes. At 15:00 they were on 18,000 metres. The sun was going down and the temperature fell to -50C. Vasenko wrote: "Fedoseyenko untangles the rope of the release valve that got tangled in an instrument." The descent speed is growing slowly. 15:40 — 14,300 metres. The last record was made at 16:10 on 12,000 metres: "The sun is shining brightly. The beauty is unforg..." At the altitude of about 1,500-2,000 metres the slings tore away. At 16:21 or 16:23 the gondola of the balloon hit the ground near the village Potizh-Ostrog in Mordovia.

The strange thing is that at 12:45 a radio amateur from Gomel recorded the following text: "This is Sirius. The balloon is in the precipitation layer and it's icing up. We are covered with ice and falling. Waiting for the strike. My comrades are in terrible condition. Ending. We'll hit soon." This information was dismissed during the investigation as a mystification, and there were no traces of the ice coating on the gondola.

The investigation has shown that the descent speed was too high. The heated gas expanded and left the balloon. When the aeronauts wanted to begin the descent, they must have released too much gas in the hurry. Besides that tangled rope, probably, left the valve open. The speed of the descent was too high. Due to the construction of the gondola, the crew could not release the ballast quickly enough. Besides, there was not enough ballast to compensate for the loss of the gas. The speed increased till the slings tore and the gondola fell to the ground. The investigators came to the conclusion that the safe altitude for Osoaviakhim-1 would be 19,500 metres and the ascent to 20,500 could present acceptable risk. The attempt of the explorers to go even higher led to their death.

The village Potizh-Ostrog, where Osoaviakhim-1 fell, is now named Usyskino, after Ilya Usyskin.


Russian history 55 part 2. Classes. Landlords and peasants

The lands of the knyaz consisted of three categories. First, the "land of the palace". Everything produced on this land was the property of the knyaz. Second, the "black land", which was given to the tenants — the peasants' communities. Third, the "boyars' land" that belonged to the boyars.

Earlier, the knyaz granted parts of the land of the palace to his servants. Soon, the shortage of the land of the palace forced the knyazes to grant parts of the "black land". Earlier the granted land was called "the servants' land", now they were called "poméstye" and those who received this land became "pomeshchiks". (This word is usually translated as "landlords", but there are important differences between landlords in general and poméshchiks in particular.) Unlike inheritable patrimonies (votchinas), poméstyes belonged to poméshchiks only as long as the poméshchik served to the knyaz. When the poméshchik died or was discharged, his poméstye returned to the knyaz. In the early XVI century there were thousands of poméshchiks who received lands in former principalities of Novgorod, Smolensk, Seversk, along river Oka and around Moscow. Two administrations were established in Moscow: "Poméstnaya izbá" administered the poméstyes and Razryad administered the poméshchiks.

Besides the poméstyes, the knyaz's servants received irregular monetary grants. To the noblest of them the knyaz granted kormlénye. This meant that they were sent to one of the towns or districts as the knyaz's deputies. The inhabitants of the town or the district payed them korm (gifts sent on holidays) and poshliha (payments for the deputy's work for the benefit of the people, like working as a judge and so on). This system was called kormlénye. The new hierarchy of the knyaz's servants included:

  1. the aristocracy: knyazhata and boyars;
  2. other nobles: owners of patrimonies and poméstyes;
  3. and the garrison soldiers who were granted small lot of land in the fortified cities.

As the system of poméstyes grew, large areas of the land earlier occupied by peasants were granted to the poméshchiks and the peasants turned from the subjects of the knyaz into the subjects of poméshchiks. The landlord served the country and for his service the peasants worked for him, ploughed his land and payed him tribute. Now, both poméshchiks and the government attempted to prevent peasants from moving away. Some peasants and their lots were listed in special books. These so called "written peasants" were not allowed to leave freely, while the "non-written peasants" still could leave at any moment they wished. The landlords, however, lent them money, grain and kettle to tie them with debts. The right of the Yuriev day still worked, but the peasants' communities were interested in keeping the members in place, since those who stayed had to pay for those who left, and they asked the knyazes to ban the written peasants from leaving. Eventually, most peasants were not allowed to leave and had to pay the tribute to the knyaz and work on the land of the landlord (either a poméshchik or the knyaz himself.)


Mausoleum for the Scythian princess

A year ago I briefly mentioned the conflict between the archaeologists and the a group of the Altai natives who demanded that the mummy of the so called Ukok princess be returned from the Novosibirsk museum and re-buried. Now, the deputy minister of culture of the Republic of Altai Vladimir Filimonov has announced that by the end of 2008 a mausoleum will be built in the capital of the republic, Gorno-Altaisk, and the mummy will be transferred there from Novosibirsk. The mausoleum will have all the equipment necessary to keep the body in good conditions and available for the scientific research. Filimonov said that the mausoleum will cost 271,000,000 Russian rubles (more than $10,000,000). A sarcastic commenter noted at the web-site of a Novosibirsk newspaper: "271,000,000?! Tutankhamum would die of envy!"

The group of Altai pagans accused the archaeologists of causing earthquakes by not allowing the spirit of the "princess" to rest in peace. In 2004, Russian scientific web-site Inauka.ru published an article refuting the claims of the local population that they are the descendants of the mummy: The Curse Of The Altai Princess. The article ends with the conclusion:

The Altai Princess falls under the law "On objects pertinent to cultural heritage of the peoples of the Russian Federation". The law says that archeological finds shall be regarded as objects of cultural heritage of the federal importance. Article 25 reads: "The objects of cultural heritage that are deemed ... of the highest archeological value may be considered as objects of the world cultural heritage." The mummy is undoubtedly an object of the highest value.

As by Article 61 "Persons who caused damage to an object of cultural heritage shall recover the cost of restoration incurred thereby. The costs duly recovered shall not exempt such persons from being subject to criminal prosecution."

Those who will bury the mummy will end up in jail.

Thank gods and spirits, there are no laws analog to the American NAGPRA in Russia.

The story of the Ukok princess can be found in the very good article A Culture on the Hoof: Kurgan Woman of the Pazyryk by Mary Lynn E. Turner and in brief, but informative The frozen horseman of Siberia by Winnie Allingham.


January 24 in Russian history


On 24 January 1919, the Organizational Bureau (Orgbureau) of the TsK VKP(b) (Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist party (bolsheviks) issued the document that started the politics known as the Decossackization (quoted from enotes.com):

24 January 1919

Circular. Secret.

The latest events on different fronts in the Cossack regions — our advance into the interior of the Cossack settlements and the disintegration among the Cossack hosts — compels us to give instructions to party workers about the character of their work during the reestablishment and strengthening of Soviet power in the said regions. It is necessary to recognize, based on the experience of the civil war with the Cossacks, that the most merciless struggle with all the upper layers of the Cossacks through their extermination to a man is the only correct policy. No compromises or halfheartedness whatsoever are acceptable.

Therefore it is necessary:

  1. To carry out mass terror against wealthy Cossacks, exterminating them to a man; to carry out merciless mass terror in relations to all Cossacks have taken part in any way directly or indirectly in the struggle with the Soviet power. Against the middle Cossacks it is necessary to take all those measures which give a guarantee against any attempt on their part [to join] a new attack on Soviet power.
  2. To confiscate grain and force [them] to gather all surpluses in designated points; this applies both to grain and all other agricultural products.
  3. To take all measures assisting the resettlement of newly arrived poor, organizing this settlement where possible.
  4. To equalize newly arrived Inogorodnie with the Cossacks in land and in all other relations.
  5. To carry out complete disarmament, shooting those who after the time of handing over are found to have arms.
  6. To give arms only to reliable elements from the Inogorodnie.
  7. Armed detachments are to be stationed in Cossack stanitsas henceforward until the establishment of complete order.
  8. To order all commissars appointed to this or that Cossack settlement to show maximum firmness and to carry out the present orders unswervingly.

TsK imposes the obligation on Narkomzem to work out quickly practical measures concerning the mass resettlement of poor on Cossack land to be carried out through the corresponding soviet institutions.

It is generally believed that the directive was written by Sverdlov and Tsyurupa. Some historians, though, question this idea, arguing that the protocols of the TsK VKP(b) do not correspond to this directive. So, G. Magner wrote in "The Decossackization in the system of mass repressions" (in Russian) that the author was none other than Stalin, who took this decision alone.

Cossacks are a social, not ethnical (probably, sub-ethnical), group or Russian population. They have a long and complicated history. Basically, they are the descendants of free people who left Russia for the new lands and were later recognized as a military organization and performed the functions of border guards for centuries. The Inogorodnie (newcomers or, literally, people from other towns) arrived to the lands settled by Cossacks later, mostly in late XIX century, when Russian government encouraged the people to move to these lands. They did not have to carry out the military duties and could concentrate on agriculture. Cossacks were proud of their outstanding position in Russia — free people and valued warriors. So, they discriminated the Inogorodnie who naturally responded with hatred. So, when the Civil war began, the Inogorodnie supported the bolsheviks. Contrary to the popular belief, the Cossacks did not unanymously support the Whites. During the first year, the Cossacks preferred to stay aside from the Civil war and refused to provide assistance to the Volunteer Army of general Alexeyev. However, they did not try too hard to drive the Volunteer Army from the Cossack lands, where it was formed. Later, the Cossacks split in three parties. Some of them supported the bolsheviks, others fought in the White Guard, while the remaining large group formed independent guerilla groups (in many occasions the bandits would be a better word), called the Greens. In January 1919 seven Cossack stanitsas (stanitsa is a small town or a large village) rebelled against the ataman (the Cossack leader) P. Krasnov. They sent messengers to the Red army and then joined the bolsheviks.

The Wikipedia article on decossackization quotes a number of books that call the decossackization genocide. While very close to the truth, this word does not describe the situation correctly. Modern historian G. Pomerants proposed the term "stratacide", the extermination of a social stratum. The bolsheviks did strive to eliminate the Cossack culture. They opposed, and opposed fiercely, their traditions, including the military uniform. The villages were renamed and even the word "Cossack" was banned. The Cossacks were persecuted with the extreme atrocity. There are many documents written by the bolshevik leaders, including Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, with the direct orders to exterminate the richer Cossacks, the atamans (the leaders), teachers, clerics, etc. In December 1919 Dzerzhinsky wrote a letter to Lenin asking him what to do with the captive Cossacks, there were about one million of them. "Shoot them all," replied Lenin. The Inogorodnie who hated the Cossacks often used these orders as an occasion to exterminate the Cossacks indiscriminately. Even the Cossacks who collaborated with the bolsheviks could not be safe. And yet, thousands of the Red Cossacks who fought together with the bolsheviks played an important role in the Civil war.

As a response to these prosecutions, the Cossacks revolted in March 1919 and many of them joined the Volunteer Army. The bolsheviks backed down. They condemned the "excesses" of the decossackization and in 1920 ran the All-Russian Congress of the working Cossacks. By mid-20s the decossackization was basically over.

I have recently finished reading the book "Russia. My native land" by Gregory P. Tschebotarioff, professor of the Princeton University, former Cossack officer. I enjoyed this simple, plain and honest book. Tschebotarioff says that he wrote the book to disprove the false conceptions common in the West. He tries to explain to the Americans what the real Russia looked like before the revolution, who are the Cossacks and what happened in 1917. Tschebotarioff knew personally many leaders of the White movement and the Cossack leaders — general Denikin, ataman Krasnov, general Kornilov and others. Tschebotarioff rejects the idea that the Cossacks were separatists who wanted to secede from Russia. When in 1959 the US Congress adopted the US Public Law 86-90 (The Law on Enslaved Peoples, if I back-translate the name correctly), obliging the United States to assist the peoples subjugated by the bolsheviks. In January 1961, Tschebotarioff wrote an article protesting again the false ideas on which the law was based. So, he says that the law offers assistance to the mythical "countries" like Cossackia or Idel-Ural, while there have never been such countries. He insists that the Cossacks were never separatists and that the words of ataman Krasnov and other Cossack leaders were misinterpreted. Being a Cossack and knowing all these people personally, he is very convincing. I highly recommend this book to all students of Russian history. A thorough, deeply personal account, it lacks the analytical approach, but describes with extreme honesty the real events of those years.


Beg your pardon for this little digression. The weather's getting really nice here. I always loved winters and it's been a long time since I saw a good blizzard. It started two days ago and still continues. Here are some photos:


Russian history 55. Classes. Landlords and peasants

At the same time when the new aristocracy was being formed in Muscovy, other social groups were appearing. In the period of the appanage system, when the north-eastern lands still were being settled by the Slavs, the social structure was yet clearly formed. The settlers coming from Dnieper and lake Ilmen to upper Volga moved incessantly, making their way slowly to the east and north-east. Only knyazes, the owners of the appanages, stayed in their own lands. Since they had to rule and to feed their druzhinas, they needed a permanent population, who would stay in the appanage. The knyazes had to develop the ways to make people stay in their lands. They either hired boyars and free servants by signing a contract with them, or bought serfs (kholops, or lyudi). All of them constituted the knyaz's court, which corresponded to the druzhinas of the Kievan period (see chapter 20). The court assisted the knyaz to run the appanage and to protect it. The boyars and free servants were military leaders and advisors, and the serfs were soldiers and peasants. Sometimes the knyazes invited poor free people to settle on the knyaz's lands in they agreed to work for the knyaz. If these people failed to perform their duties, the knyaz took the land back. These servants constituted a special social group, who were not serfs, but not quite free. Only these groups, from boyars to kholops, were at the knyaz's disposal. Of them, only kholops were non-free. All others could leave the knyaz at any moment. When leaving, they either lost the land, like the middle group of half-free servants, or retained it, like free servants.

All other people living in the knyaz's appanage, were called simply "Christians" (hence the Russian word "krestyánin", the peasant) and were not knyaz's subjects. In the posads (towns) and in villages they organized communities. The peasants' community was called mir. So, if the knyaz knew that some krestyáne peasants live in a certain region of his appanage, say, in a valley of a river, he ordered to count the number of the peasants' houses and obliged them to pay tallage. On a certain day (on Christmas or on St.Peter's day) the pesants had to bring the tallage. People came to this region and left it without the knyaz's permission. The local mir accepted them and let them go, it also defined their part in the mir's tallage. The elected elders gathered the tallage and took it to the knyaz. And so it went on, year after year, till the knyaz noticed that the number of peasants in this region increased or decreased. Then, after the new census the knyaz changed the amount of tallage. The peasants didn't even know their knyaz and the knyaz did not have to worry when some peasants left his lands. The krestyáne had the same freedom also on the boyars' lands. When they came to the new landlord, they signed the contract where their duties and payments were defined. When they wanted to leave, they renounced the land by an established procedure. According to the law and the tradition the usual day for leavin the landlord was the autumn St.Yuri's day (Yuriev day, 26 November). If we say also that the transfer from one social group to another (from peasants to the town's population, or to kholops and back) was easyly available for anyone, we'll understand how weakly defined the society was.

When the appanage system transformed into the state, this weakness had to be replaced by a more clearly defined structure. So, the grand knyazes of Muscovy granted the land to their servants only for as long as they remained the servants (see chapter 54). The same rule applied to all patrimonies: every landowner had to participate in the defense of the country. Every patrimony sent armed people whenever their lord demanded them to. The knyazhata and the boyars who ruled large patrimonies brought whole armies. Smaller landowners came alone or with one or two kholops. Since during the long and bloody wars with the Mongols, Lithuanians and Teutonic and Livonian knights a large and strong army was necessary, the grand knyazes of Muscovy began to hire strong fighters. The knyazes granted them lands as the payment for the service, since there were no other resources.


Other blogs: Siberian Light on Soviet-Japanese conflict in 1939

Khalkhin-Gol: The Battle that shaped WW2:

In August 1939, just weeks before Hitler invaded Poland, the Soviet Union and Japan fought a massive tank battle on the Mongolian border - the largest the world had ever seen.

Under the then unknown Georgy Zhukov, the Soviets won a crushing victory at the batte of Khalkhin-Gol (known in Japan as the Nomonhan Incident). Defeat persuaded the Japanese to expand into the Pacific, where they saw the United States as a weaker opponent than the Soviet Union. If the Japanese had not lost at Khalkhin Gol, they may never have attacked Pearl Harbor...

Russian history 54. Boyars and knyazhata. Their ambitions

During the earliest period of the rise of Muscovy, a class of boyars formed in Moscow (see chapter 43), who were true to the knyazes. The old tradition gave the boyars and free servants the right to leave their lord if they were dissatisfied. The nobler servants, boyars, also had the right to participate in the knyaz's duma (council) and discuss all questions regarding the state politics and administration. In the XIV century, boyars rarely excercised the right to leave the knyazes, since Muscovy was the best place for the aristocrats. On the contrary, they came from other principalities and asked the grand knyaz for the permission to become his servants. They had their share in the gains of Muscovy and did their best to assist the strengthening principality. The grand knyazes also cherished their servants. Dimitri Donskoy told his chidren before his death: "Love the boyars, honor them and do nothing without the council's approval."

The most notable among the boyars were the families of Fyodor Koshka (Romanovs and Sheremetevs), Byakont (Pleshcheyevs), Murza-Chet (Saburovs, Godunovs, etc.), the families of Golovins, Morozovs, Velyaminovs and many others. Since XV century, many knyazes from northern Rus and Lithuania became boyars in Moscow. They joined Muscovy with their lands and the knyaz left these lands to them as patrimonies. Some Lithuanian knyazes who had to leave their lands, were granted new patrimonies. So, the boyars had to serve the knyazes and received the lands as payment. These knyazes became actually simple servants of the grand knyazes, but because of their noble origin and belonged to the descendants of Gediminas or Ryurik they considered themselves higher than all other boyars. They still remembered who of them belonged to a more noble family ("older") and who was less noble ("younger"). They measured their nobility by their position within their clans, or otechestvo.

However, for the old boyars these knyazes were newcomers and the boyars wouldn't lose their priority. They had their own families and they had their own otchestvo. Their positions in their families were taken into account when knyaz appointed them to new positions. The boyars only agreed to occupy a vacant position when they were sure that they will not be subjects to "younger" boyars. This tradition was called mestnichestvo.

So, in the XV century the aristocracy gained the new form and the former knyazes and their descendants became the upper layer of this new aristocracy. They became known as knyazhata. Since their forefathers were noble independent knyazes and not simple servants of the grand knyaz, they ruled in their patrimonies as if they were the single lords of these lands, like in the older times, and their desire to become the co-rulers of the grand knyaz, of course, worried the grand knyaz. However, the grand knyaz could not raise or lower the otechestvo of the knyazes and could not make them "less noble" than they were. So, the peace between the grand knyazes and the boyars was broken. Neither Ivan III nor Vasily III recognized the ambitions of the knyazhata. Both grand knyazes deprived the knyazhata or their patrimonies or prohibited to sell them to prevent the loss of the lands belonging to Muscovy. Knyazhata were not allowed to participate in the grand knyaz's duma (council). If knyazhata asked the grand knyaz to restore their rights, they were sent to exile, to monastery or even executed. Those who attempted to secede and join their lands to Lithuania (since there was no other country to escape to), were accused of treason. So, the grand knyazes deprived their noblest servants of the ancient rights: the right to participate in duma and the right to leave their lord. The knyazhata did not understand that the new times had come and that in the new state the secession was a real treason. So, knyazhata finally became the enemies of the grand knyaz.


Other blogs: Axis of Evel Knievel on Ivan the Terrible

Axis of Evel Knievel, whose motto is "Another day, another pointless atrocity", wrote about Ivan the Terrible, one of the most popular figures of Russian history (due to his nickname, no doubts):

Ivan IV Vasilyevich -- otherwise known as Ivan Grozny or "Ivan the Terrible" -- formally assumed the title of tsar on this date in 1547. The 17-year-old had technically become Russia's ruler at the age of three when his father Ivan III died, but a series of regents conducted the nation's affairs until the young Vasilyevich asserted his authority over the boyars, the Slavic feudal aristocracy. During the period of his regency, Ivan was often beaten and molested by the two families of boyars -- the Shuiskys and Belskys -- who fought one another for the power to rule in his stead. By his teenage years, Ivan was known as a prolific drinker and a torturer of small animals. In 1543, Ivan ordered the arrest of one of the boyars, a prince named Andrew Shuisky who was then, according to legend, tossed into a pit with starving dogs. Ivan was a renowned rapist and an avid reader of books about history and religion. He beat up farmers and purged his sins while banging his head against the altar. As a result of his bizarre confessional style, he developed a callus on his forehead.

keep reading...


Books I Read: Victor Chernov. The Great Russian Revolution.

1 DONE [#6] Чернов, Виктор. Великая русская революция. (Victor Chernov. The Great Russian Revolution)    nonfiction science history

  • State "DONE" 2008-01-11 Fri 19:57
    • The collapse of the dynasty
    • The followers of Rasputin and the separate peace
    • Opposition in Duma
    • Duma against the revolution
    • The Soviet democracy
    • Position of socialist parties
    • Revolution and the workers
    • Peasants and revolution
    • Tragedy of the Russian army
    • Provisional government
    • Foreign policy of Provisional government
    • Conflict in industry
    • Government and the agrarian conflict
    • Dead-end in national politics
    • Dead-end in foreign politics
    • Army and revolution
    • Counter-revolution and general Kornilov
    • Mutiny and its corollaries
    • Party of socialists-revolutionaries
    • Slipping to bolshevism
    • Spirit of Russian revolution

    Before getting to the great undertaking of reading Richard Pipes, I decided to read the memoirs of some of the participants of the events of 1917. Viktor Chernov was a leader of the party of SRs (socialist-revolutionaries). The party had strong support among peasants and had the majority in the first Soviet and in the Constituent Assembly. Chernov was the minister of agriculture in the Provisional government and the chairman of the Constituent Assembly.

    The book begins with the chapter about the royal couple -- Nikolay II and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna. In Chernov's opinion, Nikolay was weak and flabby. Alexandra, says Chernov, on the contrary, attempted to interfere and manipulate Nikolay. Then he talks about Rasputin, accusing him of pro-German sentiments and attempting to influence the war through Alexandra and, indirectly, Nikolay. Chernov quickly paces through the events of 1914-1916, noting the inability of the government to solve the growing problems caused by the war. The largest part of the book is about 1917, starting with the abdication of Nikolay. Chernov blames the first Provisional government formed mostly of constitutional democrats for the attempts to continue the work as if the revolution never happened. The second coalitional Provisional government was simply unable to do anything, being torn apart by the party interests, Chernov says. The third socialist Provisional government, in his opinion, was just insufficiently socialist. And of course, general Kornilov was for Chernov a potential dictator obsessed with power, who strived to destroy the achievements of the revolution and to become a Russian Napoleon. Basically, Chernov accuses everyone of not thinking like he does.

    Before you get annoyed by this style, not too uncommon among politicians, the book looks rather interesting. Some facts about the family of Romanovs and the political struggle in the years before the revolution are really interesting.

    However, the position of Chernov himself doesn't seem to be impeccable. Chernov describes Kerensky as a clown, a maniacal conceited poseur. And then he talk of himself in the third person: "Chernov was rather a theoretician, speaker, journalist, lecturer and scientist than a professional politician. He reconciled his really Slav broad nature, softness and eagerness for compromise with the tendency to escape to the ideal world of social forecasts and diagnoses, creative imagination and to leave the real work to the others." On the one hand, he criticizes himself, but on the other hand, how lovingly he does it!

    The weaknesses of the position of the SR are clearly seen in Chernov's perception of the French revolution: "Kropotkin told that the real history of the fourteen revolutionary months, since June 1793 till July 1794, was not yet written; the historians studied the external side of the events, the kingdom of terror, while the gist of these events is not the terror, but the mass redistribution of land, the agrarian revolution. The abolition of the feudal privileges without any compensation was the final point of the revolution." Chernov separates the terror from the revolution, failing to notice the obvious mutual links between the terror and the revolution and wishing to get the benefits without paying the price.

    Another dubious part of the book is when he talks about the episodes when peasants occupied the lands and captured the agricultural tools and machines of the pomeshchiks (landlords) from the permission of self-proclaimed village councils (Soviets). Chernov says that the only way to deal with these squatters was to officially recognize them; attempts to bring them under control would lead to mass disorders. It's like legalizing robbery because you can't stop it. Chernov justifies his position by quoting the letters and telegrams he received from the rural areas where the village councils refused to comply with the old legislation and threatened with rebellions, but he is so clearly biased that I would like to see a more balanced view of these events. By the way, R.Pipes notes that disorders began only after Chernov became the minister of agriculture in the Provisional government.

    Chernov tries to defend the famous Order #1, issued by the Soviets and which caused the collapse of the army:

    "For the commandment this order became the worst evil, the bomb thrown into the army intentionally, which destroyed the army discipline. However, the people who were familiar with the military discipline of the modern foreign countries, did not see anything scary in this order. The idea was simple: the strict discipline is only obligatory as long as the soldiers are on duty; outside the trenches and barracks the privates excercise the same rights as the officers. The revision of the purely superficial signs of discipline (like forbidding officers to be rude to the privates or introduction of new address "citizen general" instead of the pompous "your excellency", etc.) could not frighten anyone. Slightly more important was the abolition of saluting when off duty.

    Three articles defined the interaction of the privates with the political organizations they elected -- the Soviets and committees. Of course, from the point of view of the principle of the apolitical army it was herecy, but the army that has just accomplished the revolution could not remain apolitical. Moreover, the officers who demanded that their soldiers should stay away from politics, participated in the political events.

    One more article proclaimed that only those orders of the military commission of Duma must be obeyed which do not contradict the orders of the Soviet of soldiers' deputies. But this commission was just as political and self-styled as the Soviets.

    And the fifth, main, article would be impossible in the army. All weapons must remain at the disposal of the battallion committees and cannot be given out to the officers even under their requests. Worst of all was that this article was fair."

    Sorry for this huge quotation, but note how Chernov begins with really innocent articles of this order and justifies essence of this order, the articles that eventually ruined the army.

    And yet, this one-sided book is an interesting document that gives a chance to understand the position of the SRs, the party with the largest support in the pre-bolshevik Russia.

  • State "READING" 2008-01-01 Tue 02:53
  • State "TOREAD" 2008-01-01 Tue 02:52
    ISBN: 978-5-9524-2710-5
    BBK: 63.3(2)5
  • Великая русская революция. Воспоминания председателя Учредительного собрания. 1905-1920 / Пер. с англ. Е.А. Каца. - М.: ЗАО Центрполиграф, 2007. - 430 с.


January 11 in Russian history


About ten years ago I began working as a service engineer for the well-known American company NCR. During the interview my new boss told me about the company and said: "The director of the Russian branch is Konstantin Slashchev. The last name is also the name of the famous general of the White guard." "Yes," I replied absent-mindedly, "Yakov Alexandrovich." The boss, probably, didn't expect me to remember this name, but I did. He was never really famous, though.

On 11 January 1929 Yakov Alexandrovich Slashchov was killed in Moscow by a Trotskyist named Kolenberg.

He was born on 10 January 1886 (29 December 1885 Old Style) in St.Petersburg and 1905 became an army officer in the Finland regiment of the Russian Imperial Guard (Leib-Guard). He was not sent to the Russo-Japanese war and was disappointed by this fact. Instead, he entered the Academy of the General Staff and graduated in 1911. In the Academy he was especially interested in rather unusual operations: a mix of guerilla and what we now know as spetsnaz — active night operations of small specially trained groups. Since the very first days of the WWI he fought on the frontline, was wounded five times, contused twice and awarded the order of St.George. In December 1917, he joined the Volunteer Army (the core of the future White Guard). His guerilla style operations were very useful during the fights against the bolsheviks in Northern Caucasus and along Kuban river. In 1918, his regiments drove the Red Army away from Odessa and Nikolayev, giving a chance to the White Guard to liberate half of Ukraine. In May 1919 he was promoted to general-major.

In 1919 the Red Army stroke back and the White Guard was forced to retreat to Crimea. On 27 December 1919 Slashchov's corps took their stand on the Perekop isthmus, which connected Crimea and mainland Russia and prevented the occupation of Crimea by the Red Army. Slashchov's unusual tactics almost saved Crimea and since then he became known as Slashchov-Krymsky (Slashchov of Crimea). However, the peninsula was overcrowded with demoralized and despaired refugees who were sometimes even more dangerous than the bolsheviks. They intrigued, demanded, committed crimes, bribed and took bribes and did their best to avoid the hardships of the army life. Slashchov was responsible for he defense of Crimea and his first task was the discipline.

Slashchov issued orders like this one: "The wine stores are to be sealed. The card games are strictly prohibited on the whole territory of Crimea. The owners of gambling dens will be punished as the accomplices of bolsheviks. Beware now, and if you don't listen, don't blame me for your untimely death." This was when he earned his nickname Slashchov the Hanger. Many years later, he became the prototype of general Khludov in the novel Flight (Beg in Russian) by M.Bulgakov — the brave but demoralized general who knew only one tool to restore discipline, the death penalty. Slashchov's reputation is still defined by this nickname. He sentenced hundreds of people to death. However, the largest part of his victims were not bolsheviks or their spies and saboteurs, but the officers of the White Guard accused of robbery, marauding, desertion or cowardice. So, in Simpheropol he ordered to hang three officers who robbed a Jewish jeweller. He executed soldiers who stole geese from the farms. Nevertheless, his courage, even audacity, and respect towards those who, in his opinion, deserved this respect — brave soldiers and officers — gave him another nickname. The soldiers called him "general Yasha" (diminutive of Yakov) and told legends of his inclination to risky adventures.

Anton Ivanovich Denikin, the commander of the White Guard, didn't like Slashchov, but understood that Crimea depends on Slashchov. When Denikin had to leave his position, he was replaced by baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel. The relationship between Slashchov and Wrangel were even worse. Wrangel, like Denikin, understood perfectly the importance of Slashchov and the dangers of quarrels between the leaders of the White Guard. However, the personality of Slashchov made this task very difficult. Wrangel wrote later in his memoirs:

Being a good officer, general Slashchov, even with his average army, coped with his tasks very well. With a handful of people, amid of the total chaos, he saved Crimea. But the unlimited autonomy and impunity turned his head. Unbalanced and flabby, vulnerable to flattery and prone to alcohol and drugs, he got absolutely lost in the atmosphere of chaos. He attempted to influence the politics, sent confused projects and proposals to the head-quarters, demanded to replace the leaders with other people who, he thought, were more talented.

Indeed, to decrease the pains in the abdomen caused by the recent wound, Slashchov used morphine in large doses. Slashchov accused Wrangel of cowardice and even theft. Wrangel deprived Slashchov of the orders and the right to wear military uniform.

One of the reasons for their quarrels was that Wrangel understood perfectly well that without the Western allies Russia will fall under bolshevism. This meant that Russia depended on the political will of Britain and, especially, France. For Slashchov, it was impossible and he came up with an idea of the Slavic unity. Slashchov was the first leader of the White Guard who proposed to grant autonomy to Ukraine. He preferred the alliance with Pilsudski's Poland, in spite of the pro-German position of Pilsudski, to the union with L'Entente. His disagreement with Wrangel began during the discussions of the planned advance. Slashchov offered to meet the Poles who advanced from the West, and Wrangel was inclined to accept the proposal of the Western allies and to attack Donetsk. Probably, Wrangel understood that the Slashchov's plan was correct, but the alliance with France and Britain was too important for him.

After the defeat of the White Guard Slashchov evacuated to Turkey and spent some time in Constantinople, growing and selling vegetables. One day he read the agreement between Wrangel and the Entente. His reaction was, as always, unpredictable. "The reds are my enemies, but they did the most important thing: they have revived the great Russia! And I don't care how they call her." This was unbelievable and the white emigrants boycotted him. The bolsheviks, on the contrary, were interested by this reaction. Now, an interesting story begins. During the sitting of Politbureau, Felix Dzerzhinsky offered to invite Slashchov to the Red Army. Zinovyev, Bukharin, and Rykov opposed, but Kamenev, Stalin and Voroshilov supported Dzerzhinsky. Lenin abstained from voting. Trotsky hated Slashchov, but he was not present on this sitting. Dzerzhinsky insisted on sending invitation to Slashchov and the proposal was accepted. Slashchov was amnestied and in November 1921 he and his young second wife Nina Nechvolodova arrived to Sevastopol. BTW, the life of Nina Nechvolodova is itself extremely interesting, but let's leave it for another story.

Why did Dzerzhinsky wanted to see Slashchov in the Red Russia? Of course, Slashchov was a gifted and lucky officer. But it seems that there were other reasons of which we no very little. In 1920, Nina Nechvolodova, who was then pregnant, was caught by the bolsheviks. They knew she was Slashchov's wife. Trotsky's commissar, Rozalia Zemlyachka (Samoylova), who later became one of the executors of Crimea and together with the Hungarian communist Bela Kun exterminated thousands of people there, ordered to shoot Nechvolodova, but for an unknown reason she was set free. The rumours tell that in 1920 Slashchov had a secret meeting with the a Dzerzhinsky's commissar in the Korsunsky monastery, near Berislav. Probably, there were some links between Dzerzhinsky and Slashchov of which we know nothing.

In 1922 Slashchov wrote an appeal to the former officers of the White Guard offering them to return to Russia and many of them did. By 1923, about 223,000 emigrants returned. The officers became officers of the Red Army. Slashchov was sentenced to death in absentia by the Russian All-Military Union, the organization of the white emigrants. The execution never happened, though. Slashchov became a teacher of the Soviet military academy — the Vystrel courses. Many Soviet commanders attended the courses. Soviet general Batov recalled: "He was a brilliant teacher and the tension in the room reminded the tension of the battle. Many of us fought against the White Guard and now a former White general sarcastically commented on our errors. We gritted our teeth angrily, but kept learning." Once Slashchov said that the main cause for the failure of the Soviet-Polish war was the stupidity of the Soviet commanders. Angry Semyon Budyonny, who was one of those "stupid ones", grasped his revolver and made some shots to Slashchov, but missed. Slashchov came to Budyonny and said: "You fought just like you shoot now."

On 11 January 1929, Slashchov was shot in his room by Lazar Kolenberg. During the trial, Kolenberg explained that he did it to revenge for his brother who was hanged by Slashchov. He couldn't prove this, but was soon released without punishment. This assassination strangely coincided with the beginning of repressions against former White officers. Or, probably, it is not strange at all…

Update @13:40 2008-01-15: correction in the paragraph about Wrangel and Poland (see comments below)

Update @0:58 2008-01-25: I have received a very interesting comment from Marc at SimaQianStudio.com. He writes:

"In my much younger days I was known to associate with a bunch of Wrangel and Denniken veterans. The only time I heard Slashchev's name mentioned, the room came to a quick and tense quiet. followed by conversation on other topics. A reaction like that naturally piqued my interest, and since those old timers didn't suffer fools gladly, it was off to the the public library. That's where I learned Slashchev's revolutionary insurgent and counter-insurgent tactics. It was a real revelation, and that knowledge would serve me in good stead in later years. By the way, the old White veterans held Slashchev responsible for the deaths of their comrades, who they thought would never had returned to the USSR were it not for Slashchev's entreaties."

Could it be the reason why the English Wikepedia still lacks the article about Slashchov?



One year ago, on January 9, I started this blog. Frankly, I was not sure if the newborn blog would make it past the first year. Fortunately, your feedback, dear readers, supported me for all this time. I have an impression that this undertaking is not totally useless. Thank you.

So, the non-fiscal report of the 2007 follows.

The assets: 224 articles. 110 of them constitute "The day in history" series. 51 are the translations of the chapters of the course in Russian history by Sergey Platonov. 8 articles are the translation of "The Collapse of the Empire" by Yegor Gaidar. 15 articles are tagged as 'politics' — it was when I gave a vent to my feelings about recent events in Russia.

The feedback was: 3,821 visits to the blog and 5,431 page views. At least, this is what the counter at SiteMeter.com shows. When the blog was born, I used some other counter and now the SiteMeter.com page reminds of this with the pathetic "Plus 19 visitors before joining Site Meter on January 11, 2007" :). The average number of visitors is 24 per day. The best results were in 52 visits when the blog was mentioned at the site of Radio France and 64 visits when I wrote a follow-up to the article about Alexey Gastev by the venerable languagehat.com.

The reward is: 13 RSS subscribers at Google Reader. Technorati.com authority is 25 and the rank is 331,293. The Google search for "de rebus antiquis et novis -site:minaev.blogspot.com" gives 2,450 links.

The most visited articles, according to Google Analytics, are the articles about Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya (166 views), Alexey Gastev (35 views) and the translation of Timur Aliyev's recollections about the beginning of the first Chechen war. The top Google queries which displayed my articles are: "novis", "de rebus", "rebus", "basma khan", "minaev", "miloradovich", "mammoth hunters", "yaroslav the wise" and "history of russian food". The top clicked queries are "morris gershowitz" and "vostok and mirnyi".

And, finally, here are two diagrams from SiteMeter.com showing the growth of the number of visits and page views.

Thanks to all of you, dear readers!


January 6 in Russian history


(25 December 1864 Old Style)

Birthday of Nikolay Yakovlevich Marr. An extravagant and a bit frightening figure in the Soviet science. Wikipedia writes:

Marr earned a reputation of the maverick genius with his Japhetic theory, postulating the common origin of Caucasian, Semitic-Hamitic, and Basque languages. In 1924, he went even further and proclaimed that all the languages of the world descend from a single proto-language which had consisted of four "diffused exclamations": sal, ber, yon, rosh. Although the languages undergo certain stages of development, the linguistic paleontology makes it possible to discern elements of primordial exclamations in any given language. To draw support for his speculative doctrine, Marr elaborated a Marxist footing for it. He hypothesized that modern languages tend to fuse into a single language of communist society. This theory was a base of the mass campaign in 1920-30s in the Soviet Union of introduction of Latin alphabets for smaller ethnicities of the country, including replacement of the existing Cyrillic alphabets, e.g., for the Moldovan language.

His father, James Montague-Marr, was a Scot and his mother, Agafya Magulariya, was Georgian. Nikolay was one of the most strange pupils in the Kutaisi gymnasium. After a disease, when he couldn't attend the lessons for half a year, he decided to leave the school and become a telegraphist. His mother hardly managed to convince him to continue his studies. He was spending so much time studyihg foreign languages that he rarely visited the school, but his grades were always good. He was so interested in ancient Greek that he asked the principal for permission to stay in the eighth form for the second year, but the principal decided that Marr was mentally ill and almost sent him down. Marr was the editor of the school newspaper. He wrote revolutionary verses, welcoming the assassination of Alexander II and calling to the arms to "liberate" Georgia from Russians. However, he was not a revolutionary. During elections to the university council he always associated with the far right candidates.

When Marr entered the St.Petersburg university, he chose the faculty of Oriental languages. Students had to choose the languages they planned to learn and join the corresponding groups. Marr joined ALL groups that studied the languages of Near East and Caucasus! And he did learn all these languages. He became a great polyglot and could have become a great linguist, had it not been for the passion and obsession with his own unsubstantiated theories. He never even completed a single course in theoretical linguistics. He was a brilliant dilettante, a bit like Schliemann in archaeology. Unlike Schliemann, though, Marr was not successful. He was so deeply fascinated with his home Caucasus that he maniacally exaggerated the role of the peoples of Caucasus in history. Still a student, Marr introduced the term "Japhetic languages" — first to denote the unity of Georgian, Svan, Mingrelian and some other languages of Georgia and Semitic and Hamitic languages. This was an arguable, but more or less scientific theory. Later Marr began to include all dead languages of Mediterranean and Near East into this Japhetic group. His method is exemplified by his hypothesis that the Greeks originated in Caucasus. One of the earliest tribes of ancient Greece is called Pelasgians. This name is so similar to the name of Lezgins (an ethnic group in Northern Caucasus, Dagestan), Marr said, that these must be the same people. So, Pelasgians are from Caucasus. Or another example: we know of the two groups of Romans, the plebs and the patricians. In Marr's opinion, the sounds -eb- in plebs which remind the plural ending in Georgian language, prove that the plebs belonged to the Japhetic peoples who were conquered by Indo-European patricians.

However, Marr was also an archaeologist, and a good one. He began the explorations of Ani, the ancient Armenian capital, founded the Ani museum and published a number of works in Armenian history. The Armenians then even called all archaeologists "marrs". He found an ancient Georgian Christian treatise. His ideas about the close ties between the languages and the material culture are still interesting.

In 1917, Marr heartily welcomed the October revolution. He organized the Academy of the history of the material culture, participated in the foundation of many linguistic institutions, wrote the grammars for many languages of the USSR which hadn't had writing systems, including the Veps and the Karelian languages. In 1933 he opposed the the attempts to replace the Georgian and Armenian alphabets with Cyrillic. Instead, he spent many years developing the overcomplicated Latin-based "analytic alphabet" that would be suitable for all languages. He proposed to use it for the Abkhazian language, one of the most complicated languages from the phonetic point of view, but was not successful. Some people told that Marr saved them from Cheka.

On the other hand, Marr very rude and impudent. When he read lectures in Armenia and explained some features in the Armenian language, and Armenian raised his hand and said that he, as a native Armenian speaker, cannot agree with the Marr's examples. Marr immediately replied: "A fish wants to become and ichtyologist!" He often called his opponents fascists or compared them to Chamberlaine, Poincare and other "bourgeois politicians".

In 1921 or 1922 Marr, the only member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences who joined the Communist party, founded the Japhetic Institute. His outstanding personality, which reminded of the recent scientific revolution of Einstein, Roentgen and Bohr, attracted many scientists to the institute. Marr continues to enhance his theories. It was then when he deduced the four syllables of his "proto-language". Any word of any language may be reconstructed to these four syllables, he argued. "There are things which need not be proven, they can only be demonstrated," replied Marr when his opponents asked for proofs. Since 1928, Marr used the Marxist demagoguery to make his theory the official Marxist linguistics. When his opponents shrugged: "I don't understand you," Marr replied: "You'll never understand me till you change your class thinking!"

To be just, we have to note that the worst persecutions of the Marr's opponents began only after his death in 1934. He became the icon of the "proletarian linguistics". And then, suddenly, in 1950, Pravda published a whole page of criticism of Marr by A.S. Chikobava, who accused Marr of "misinterpretation of the national". For two months, Pravda continued the discussion of the Japhetic theory till finally, on 20 June, the article titled "Marxism and problems of linguistics" was published: "N. Y. Marr introduced into linguistics incorrect and non-Marxist formula, regarding the "class character" of language, and got himself into a muddle and put linguistics into a muddle. Soviet linguistics cannot be advanced on the basis of an incorrect formula which is contrary to the whole course of the history of peoples and languages.". The author was someone "J.Stalin". Marr, like modern linguists, told that there are no primitive languages, that the complexity of languages has nothing to do with the maturity of the civilization. Stalin, on the other hand, argued that more complicated languages are signs of a more mature society. Academic Vinogradov supported Stalin: "Josef Vissarionovich, Pushkin's vocabulary contains 21,000 words and the Shakespeare's vocabulary is only 20,000 words!" Basically, Stalin proclaimed the national minorities of the USSR the people of the second class. As the result, a huge number of national, non-Russian, schools and newspapers were closed.

After this article, all Marr's achievements, both mythical and real, became non-science. Two weeks later Marr's disciples wrote: "We see the fallaciousness of the theoretical way we used to follow."

A good article about Nikolay Marr in Russian by V. Alpatov: Marr, Marrism and Stalinism.


January 3 in Russian history


Mussolini wrote a letter to Hitler, disproving the recent German agreements with the Soviet union:

Nobody knows better than I do, with my fourty-years long experience, that the politics, especially the revolutionary politics, sometimes demands tactical manoeuvres. In 1924 I recognized the Soviets. In 1934 I signed the treaty of trade and friendship with them. So, I understood, especially considering the fact that the Ribbentrop's prediction of the non-interference of Britain and France did not prove to be correct, that you had to avoid the second front. For this, you had to reconcile with the huge territories in Poland and Baltic countries being gained by Russia who didn't strike a single blow in that campaign.

But I, who was born a revolutionist and who never betrayed the revolution, tell you that you cannot permanently sacrifice the principles of your Revolution to the tactical exigencies of a certain political moment. I feel that you cannot abandon the anti-Semitic and anti-Bolshevik banner which you have been flying for twenty years and for which so many of your comrades have died; you cannot renounce your gospel.

I feel it my duty to add that any further step in the relationships with Moscow would cause catastrophic consequences in Italy, where the anti-Bolshevik sentiments are universal, absolute, hard as granite and inviolable. Permit me to believe that this will not happen. The solution of your Lebensraum problem is in Russia and nowhere else.

Germany’s task is this; to defend Europe from Asia. That is not only Spengler’s thesis. Until four months ago Russia was world enemy number one; she cannot have become, and is not, friend number one.

The day when we shall have demolished Bolshevism we shall have kept faith with our two Revolutions. It will then be the turn of the big democracies, which cannot survive the cancer which is gnawing at them and which manifests itself in the demographic, political and moral fields.

I especially enjoyed this brave and pompous "revolutionist". They're so eloquent, these revolutionists, aren't they? :)