Ehrenburg. Face of War. Russians in France

The text is brought according to the issue: Эренбург И. Г. Лик войны. Воспоминания с фронта, 1919, 1922–1924. Газетные корреспонденции и статьи, 1915–1917. СПб.: Издательство Европейского университета в Санкт-Петербурге. 2014. С. 109–123.

Scanned by Mikhail Tyagur (see his LJ).

Translated by Vladislav Fyodorov.

Edited by Naomi Boulanger.

In square brackets, underline remarks are reproduced. My own remarks are in angle brackets.

In the first issue of the book (Sofia, 1920) the chapter was accompanied with a commentary:

“I omitted some notes of this chapter, mainly mentioning relations between officers and soldiers. The facts described in them could not be impartially checked until now, and in the atmosphere of civil war any not only false but even one-sided coverage of causes of collapse of the Russian Army is too painful and hard for many people.”

There was a commentary in the second issue (Berlin, 1923), too:

“The manuscript of ‘Face of War’ was delivered by me for the first issue in autumn of 1919 in Kiev. From that chapter were omitted back then some notes related to the cruel order that reigned in Russian brigades before the revolution, as well as harassment of French over Russian soldiers after the revolution.Unfortunately, the original of the manuscript disappeared, and I cannot restore the omissions. However, soldiers who returned in 1920–1921 from French captive told enough of similar facts. My book is no history, though, and this chapter has episodical character in it.”

(Both commentaries are reproduced by the indicated contemporary issue, p. 109.)

According to commentaries of the contemporary issue the chapter is brought by, the text in it is printed by the last issue in the author’s lifetime (Moscow, 1928) that was verified by the issues of Sofia and Berlin. At that, “the censorial ideological cutting of the text of the two first issues is restored” (p. 321). In this chapter, as it is indicated in the commentaries, IX–XVII and the author’s remarks are restored” (p. 326).

I

Rambling without food, hiding by day, sneaking past sentries, crawling on bellies, through the double barrier of trenches, under fire, beaten, hungry, semi-naked, sometimes wounded — they come to us every day. They are Russians who fled from captivity. Everyone’s story is similar to a fantastic novel, and I have heard hundreds of those stories. They flee from Belgium, from Alsace, from Austria. They pass the Alps and the Vosges. They cross the Rhine, the Meuse and the Isonzo. They crawl through entrenchments and wire obstacles. And they tell about it simply and bluntly, not understanding their valour. “I got away and that’s it…”

In a chic hospital on the Champs-Élysées lies a Cossack. Near them chatter two dames. The doctor’s assistant serves as a translator.

“So I see a great river on the fourth day, which is ‘Rai’ in their tongue [Rhine]. I had to cross it. Some water flowed in my ear, now it hurts. Well, I got out, spread the linen and sat down myself in the sun. Drying…”

The dames chirp:

“The Rhine? He crossed the Rhine! Ask him, he’s probably the best swimmer?”

The Cossack, surprised with the question, grins with a little disdain.

“Swimming? I’m not used to it… Really… Just fun…”

“You know, Marie, I could fall for him. He’s a true barbarian”, whispers a dame in rapture.

They are awarded with crosses, shown to important people, forced to tell for the hundredth time how they fled. They are not proud, do not yield to vanity and ask about one thing: “better return soon to Russia”, as if a light, merry life waited for them there. They are not let out without surveillance. The embassy is afraid of the revolutionary propaganda. They were told there were many Russians in Paris, but all of them were thieves and murderers.

“Are you an escaped thief, sir?” asks me a high man from Perm with prominent cheek-bones. Seeing my confusion, he calms:

“Why, there are good people among such folk, too. Many ones from Siberia pass past us… And sir, do you know when we will be driven to Russia?”

Then he tells:

“Our poruchik was angry, very fond of getting into scuffles. ‘Understood?’ he asks. ‘Yes, your honor!’ And I’m struck in the teeth. ‘Got it?’ ‘Yes, your honor!’ And in captivity, in the stadt [city], there was a German officer, an angry one. ‘Russ?’ ‘Yes, your honor!’ In the teeth. ‘Got it?’ And more, and more. Look here, sir, I lost three teeth in the war.”

And the athlete with gentle, child-like eyes shows me his toothless jaw.

“If only they drove us sooner!”

II

Vasilka Kudryavtsev is fourteen years old. He spent a year in the war, he was wounded, he has the <cross of> George. During the retreat from Galicia, he was captured. The Germans flogged him a little first of all, then sent him with others to Lille for labour. Vaska disliked it. He decided to flee. He incited others to: they feared. He crept through the German trenches.

“I was already coming, but foolishly got into a ditch with water. Such a noise was made! Both these and those are shooting. I think I’ve died. I started to run and I sang like the French in the camp did: “Alon aban dan la Parizh” [a broken line from Marseillaise]. I’ve arrived.”

Refreshed with a glass of cognac, Vaska demanded to lead him “to the most chief French general”. And in the division headquarters he pulled a notebook out from his boot. There, precisely indicated, were the locations of German batteries, stores and headquarters, and the distance was measured with steps. And he asked:

“Tomorrow at noon, fire three times at that wooded area. It’s the sign. Then my comrades will get across. I told them, and they’re adults, but they’re cowards.”

Actually, the next day, eight runaways came. The French gave a cross to Vaska. He learns French, eats cakes and dreams about a triumphant return to home. Just one thing confuses him — he admitted to me on the sly:

“We’re from Petersburg, we live in Okhta. Daddy’s into shoemaking. He’s conscious of surprisingly little. When I came with the George for a stay, he spanked me first of all, and then he went to boast. And now I beware, too…”

III

In a café in Paris a French journalist is interviewing two Russians who fled from captivity. Ivan Khobotov is a plain peasant, from Vyatka; Gennadiy Lukashkin is pretentious: before the war he served as a clerk in Tsaritsin. This morning, wishing to give himself a European look, he decided to buy a pince-nez. The visage was excellent, and in the shop he was offered a monocle. Lukashkin was offended:

“I can pay for an intact one…”

The pince-nez does not sit on his short, round nose at all. Lukashkin wears it at especially solemn moments and says with a polite smile:

“Culture…”

“We intended to flee long ago. The French were with us, and I elicited from them the front was not far from there. And Ivan kept at it: “Better for us to go to our people.” A well-known story: a person without education, wanted to go from Koblenz right to Vyatka. We traveled for a week. We went by night and hid by day. Got safely over the German positions, then a run to the French. We jumped down, and there were, God forgive, black people there. I didn’t know back then the French had their own Araps <black people>. I feared, and Ivan crosses himself, saying: “Farewell, Gennadiy!” They almost slaughtered us. But God saved us; there was a white man with them. I say to him: “Rus, rus.” And all of that was because he didn’t read enough books…”

The Frenchman is boasting of Paris. Within Lukashkin rises patriotism.

“So many cars here!”

“In our Tsaritsin a merchant lover acquired camels and arranges camel races.”

To the camel races the Frenchman can reply nothing. He asks:

“Why did they resolve upon such a brave deed?”

Here Khobotov, who kept silent before, says:

“What do you mean ‘why’? We wanted to go home…”

IV

The runaways had for long months to wait and pine in France. Sometimes they saw someone’s malicious will in that. After the revolution, when the relationships became especially sharp, people waited for transport in Brest in vain. And one beautiful morning the French found a note: “We fled from German captivity not to turn out in French one.”

They secretly got into a transport which took them away to Arkhangelsk.

V

Marceille met the Russian brigades with music and flowers. The soldiers sprightly marched and sang. They could not tell anyone of their frightful path…

The speeches were spoken, bouquets were brought. And in several days broke out the first riot. Embittered soldiers killed an officer whom they hated. Nine were shot, many were put into prison…

The Russian authorities which were afraid of the “corrupting” spirit tried to isolate their soldiers from the French everyhow.

It was forbidden to sell wine to Russians. Of course they procured all beverages for triple the price from the French. But when Russian soldiers came to rest in a village, were it even at night, the authorities gathered the habitants with drumming and warned: Russians have come, one should not sell wine to them. Without understanding the high politics, the French peasants decided it could be warned so only about coming bandits. Besides, what are those people to whom one fears to give a glass of wine? They firmly locked the gates and looked with fear at the Russian barbarians.

A bad role was also played by translators, French who spoke the Russian language. They treated the soldiers scandalously. Once in my presence a translator began for no reason to swear with the foul language a sedate soldier who stiffened in fear. The anyway disgusting words sounded especially nastily from a foreigner’s mouth. I did not bear and asked, why he presumed to speak so with Russians? The French shrugged his shoulders:

“But one can’t deal with them otherwise. Ask your own officers about it…”

Those translators made the soldiers indignant against the French, and the same ones set the habitants against them with stories about their savagery and brutality.

VI

At first Russians came to French with benevolent curiosity, then the relations went bad. The Russians felt contempt and got offended. Besides, much in the French character did not please our people. They complained:

“If we have money, they are with us, if not, farewell…”

“I set a bottle, he sits, when he sees bottom, he doesn’t even say a word, no trace. Do I grudge wine? It offends me, as if I was no human…”

“He says: comrade. What of comrade he is? They don’t have it. Everyone is in oneself…”

“They’re too arrogant. He saw porridge, said, only swines eat that. I also saw how they gorged snails, but I don’t say such a word.”

“They scold us: dirt ones! swines! And look: he’s pomaded but didn’t visit bath for a year. Just a semblance. They don’t wash the dirt off but drive it in…”

The French, in their turn, increased the discord even more with certainly their natural misunderstanding of Russian morals.

Our soldiers in an outpost started a custom to swear with Germans every day. That occurred after lunch. If a German appears in morning or in evening, he is killed at once. But at noon it’s alright, and they drag out themselves. They start swearing: someone in Russian, with feeling, someone “Schwein”. There were Poles among Germans, they also swore in Russian well. So they amuse themselves for an hour. Once a French adjutant saw that.

“Why don’t you shoot?”

“One shouldn’t, for we’re swearing.”

The French swore himself, gripped a rifle and wounded a German.

The Russians got indignant:

“A bad story. Now they’ll think it of us…”

There were many misunderstandings about the captives. The Russians treated them blandly, gave them soup, tobacco. The French interpretated that as sympathy to the Boches. Here is one of often happened scenes.

Russians lead a captured German to the staff. A French is in the way. He starts to cut off buttons from the German’s greatcoat with knife.

“Why are you eventually doing that?”

“Souvenir.”

“That’s what you thought out! Give up that. Now it isn’t summer. The wind walks without buttons. Do you hear? Leave him!”

In a minute there is a scuffle. The French are indignant: “the Russians are friends of the Boches”. The Russians unwillingly delivered the captives to the French. These are ours. We took them. Those sit somewhere and probably yet swagger over them. A shallow people!

VII

Despite non-friendly feelings, Russians learned many things in France.

“Among us everyone aims to scuffle. And among them one says: ‘mon general’ and makes a proper expose. He stands upright, and nothing. One comes to a cafe, and were there even a colonel, even a general himself, he sits and drinks coffee anyway.”

They were touched with the French courtesy:

“You come to a shop, and right to you: ‘Monsieur’. It’s pleasant. Did I buy among us even for a hundred rubles, no one would say me such a word.”

They caught the courtesy themselves. They liked to visit a cafe in a party and to treat each other by turn with coffee. The mistress smiling, and them drinking not tea or vodka but coffee, brought them to a solemn mood. They drank and thanked each other: “merci”.

They were surprised that the French drink much but are never seen drunk.

“Construction! Take me: if I drink, it becomes noisome, I’ll go to scuffle without fail. And he drinks and sings songs, he both feels hilarious and looks really nice…”

They were very gladdened by French women.

“I arranged with one in Châlons, but I scare to approach. Not our woman. She wears a hat, and talks, talks… You don’t hug such one that simply.”

In a Paris cafe I saw two Russians with a street girl. One swore, his comrade hissed at him.

“But she doesn’t understand Russian.”

“It’s still inconvenient near her.”

Both sedately smiled. The poor girl probably never sat with such civil gentlemen.

VIII

Belgians and Englishmen were met seldom. But when it needed to be together, they got on well. Especially good friends were Arabs and black people. After an unsuccessful attack, where in the hardest sector were Russians and Turkoses <Eastern people>, an Arab and a Russian went together. They had a talk: “Rus — kaput. Arab — kaput. French — tra-la-la”.

There were many Bashkir Muslims among the Russians. When a soldier mullah wanted to find in Paris some things for divine service, he was sent to Turkoses. The mullah who spoke Arabic got to talking with soldiers. First they were frightened, then gladdened a lot: so far away there are Muhammadans and they still speak their language!

That mullah told me that once a Senegalese marabout shared his doubts with him: “Why did Allah not make us white?”

“I showed him I wasn’t white, either, but yellow. Allah likely loves both white, and yellow, and black people. And you know what he said me, too: ‘Allah is kind; he is black or yellow, just not white.’”

IX

When in autumn 1916 in Champagne I went once through the trenches alone, parted from the officers, the soldiers asked me in every step:

“What, isn’t it heard about reconciliation?”

In the officer assembly, at the division headquarters, it was light and cheerful. The orchestra played. Champagne was drunk “for the victorious army”, “for sovereign”. Near the windows, in the yard, crowded soldiers. Few people were interested in what they thought. It was sung and drunk. And a young praporshchik, timidly looking around, whispered to me in a corner:

“Do you know that outrages happen?.. That soldiers are flogged?.. We need to appeal to the French command, let it forbid flogging. Else it will be bad, we’ll be all slaughtered…”

In evening General Gouraud told me the Russian army “had an excellent discipline and was invincible”.

And in the hall a Russian orderly, saying me goodbye, showed at the north, where were the Russian troops, and said:

“So nothing will come of it!..”

I asked him back then, what did he give up for lost: the fifth special regiment, the victory, or, maybe, all Russia?..

XI

Along the boulevards of Paris ran boys crying “Abdication du Tzar!” The soldiers knew nothing. The news about the revolution were hidden from them near ten days. They headed from the positions to rest. On the way they found out everything from the French. There was a minute — a wild senseless riot could burst out due to some rotten cabbage and hidden money. But the great gladness and love won, which fulfilled the hearts of all Russian people in those days.

The French feared echoes of the revolution and decided to render the Russian units harmless, sending them into the battle. The brigades, which were in the positions during all the winter and deserved rest, after long marches and a week-long respite were thrown into the battle.

To go? Not to go? This question already rose. The chains fell and nobody could force now. From far the revolution seemed especially splendid and majestic, a new life appeared to the soldiers. Who knows, how hard it was to go to death in those days!.. In the Eastern front reigned a lull. In Russia it was celebrated. Far abroad, in whitish Champagne, Russian people went into attack.

The Russians charged with an excessive heroism. They seized Fort Brimont, on which depended the fate of Reims, but without any support they had to leave it. The general assault of the allies ended with a full fail. In the Russian units the losses were high: a third left the ranks. In far France, where the Russians were later cursed and abused, remained many lonely eight-ended crosses. Now I often think: were not happier than all of us those who died in the light morning of the Red Easter, seeing the joyful blaze, not crossing the threshold of the fatal year?

XI

A valley in Île-de-France, green hills floating away, apple- and plum-trees in bloom. Spring.

Today is a celebration, the First of May. Over the shining helmets, over the grey rows of soldiers red flags flow like joyful tiny brooks. Thrushes cry, and it’s hot in the sun.

The peasants look in wonder and terror: what is it, a celebration? a riot? Near me is the village’s Cure. He vainly tries to realise the happening, questions me, asks to translate the speeches. The red flags mean riot; but no, all the officers and the commander of the regiment are with them. The Marceillaise is played… Oh, that’s a patriotic celebration! But here is “The International”: “c’est la lutte finale” [this is the final struggle] — that’s a riot, of course, anarchists! What are they saying? We must fight against Germany, win? Then not a riot. What else? The Germans are brothers? But why is the commander with them?.. The poor Cure, it wasn’t only him who was confused with those contradictions.

But in this morning the future is not frightful, for in the hearts is too much of love, which “defeats the fear”. The commander of the regiment embraces a soldier. I look at the soldiers’ faces, solemn and clear, as if they were in the church at Easter matins. This colonel has said to the soldiers that he is an old human, monarchist, he loves Russia and will be loyal to the new regime. They have understood and they believe. It is hard for them to cover the grim “yesterday”, for him is heavy the new and unintelligible “today” — these flags, and songs, and strange speeches. But now they are all united by love to far Russia, suffering, unsatisfied, seeking for truth.

The soldier K. mounted the platform. He wants to speak, but is excited, his voice trembles.

“Proletariat!..” and he cries.

And I understand there are minutes when boring, newspaper phrases can be repeated with a great tremor, like a secret prayer.

XII

A soldier meeting. The most frightful, fatal question is discussed: about attitude to the officers. One soldier says:

“Here an ‘amnesty’ has happened, and this means remission. So, in my opinion, let’s set them amnesty, to forgive all the old. Now we’ll live in a new way, and what recalling old sins would be!”

Another one:

“We must come to them first and give them hand. Because it’s easier to us. Not we beat them but they did us.”

Other voices sound, too.

“Do you say to forgive? Comrades, recall how we were flogged. He says: ‘So take your pants off, and knock him into the middle of next week!’ To forgive, you want it too fast. It hasn’t healed yet…”

So say only the most embittered so far. Sometimes they are hissed at, not wanted to listen to. But sometimes these reminders about recent offenses, these calls to revenge make a bigger impression than all the reasons and all the speeches.

XIII

The soldiers took the revolution not only as a political and social overturn, but as a change of all the life, a spiritual transformation. Appeared thirst for books, aspiration for a good pure life. Selling of spirits was allowed, but the soldiers resolved not to allow drunkenness, and despite all the temptations, there were no outrages in the first two months of revolution. This care about self-perfection was naïve and touching sometimes: the committee forbad to use obscene words in its tea and reading rooms…

Some giant work happened inside grey ignorant people. For the first time something stirred in their brains not used to thinking. They did not realise the happening yet, did not find words to transmit their expectations and pines.

Here after a flowery speaker from writers who flaunted foreign words appropriately and inappropriately, a gloomy soldier with high cheek-bones comes out:

“Everyone spoke, I also want to say my word. But I don’t know what to say. Because in me is night, darkness. I was sent to learn as a floor-polisher, for two shirts and pants. I was beaten and beaten, but I learnt nothing. I grew, became a groom, but I could only ask for alms, because there was only darkness. And I was raised to a military rank; and what of soldier I am? I thought, here the German would come, and I couldn’t even throw a bomb. I threw, and it didn’t burst. Another time I took it, knocked, threw, and it burst. And the corporal struck in the teeth. Because darkness was kept in us, wasn’t let go outside. And now it goes away from me, and I feel like speaking, speaking. As if I didn’t live before. That’s my word. Forgive, comrades.”

He bows to the four sides, smiling confusedly.

XIV

All questions were discussed, all the world was rearranged. Most of all it was spoken about “reconciliation” and about land. At one meeting it was decided to take land from masters. Captain E., a Georgian who kept silent before, didn’t endure:

“I have a peach tree there. My father planted it. I go out in morning and look: that’s my peach, and it’s all in dew, and I pluck a peach. And you want to take my garden away. Is it just?”

The soldiers are confused and silent. The meeting is in the garden of an old castle. The blooming snow of chestnuts falls, the May sun trembles among the leaves. It is good. But here, what is it — they offended the captain? Finally a soldier decides:

“Don’t doubt, my captain, we’ll leave you the peach!”

Everybody assents and sighs with relief, content with the solution. Maybe there, in far Georgia, other soldiers already cut down the old captain’s peach tree. But this spring morning is too wonderful not to make everyone, at least in words, happy and reconciliated.

XV

“Demoralization” of the Russian brigades was much assisted by the French rules and the gutter press. “Matin”, “Petit Parisien” and other leaflets stirred the population up against the Russians in every way. Since the first days of revolution they spoke about “Russia’s betrayal”.

Russian soldiers, who came back after the April battles, were met by French with shouts “boche!”, “russes avec boches”, “russes kapout!” [Russians with Germans, Russians kaput]. The accusation in Germanophilia was preferred against all Russians. First the soldiers endured, then got angry. They said:

“When you hear ‘boche’, strike him in the mug.”

The hostile feeling toward Russians was expressed at every step. The wounded men suffered especially much from it. In one hospital a French doctor slapped our soldier in the face, in another one Russians were placed together with Germans for a special regime, in a third one they were given no vacations etc.

With every day the already non-friendly relationships became aggravated, and soon the Russians began to regard the French as enemies.

Some people offered to ask for inclusion of the Russian brigades into the English army. But the common slogan was now “To Russia!”.

If it is recalled that bleeding France suffered a hard time back then; that from the Eastern front came bad news and, above all, German units; that, finally, the French are very susceptible and nervous in their relationships toward other peoples, — what I have told becomes more understandable. But of course not less understandable are the feelings of Russian peasants who did not grasp politics or diplomacy but felt common hatred and contempt around them.

XVI

From Paris began to come Bolshevik agitators from emigrants. They entrenched in the committee of one regiment. Worked as usual, skilfully and energetically. They leant on the hatred towards the French and the officers, on the thirst to return to home. It is interesting to note that, being internationalists and supporters of class war, they seemed patriots and pacifists back then. Far from the motherland the soldiers felt love to it more keenly. The “Bolsheviks” (among the soldiers) said:

“If we have to fight, then not with the Frogs. We need to demand to send us to the Russian front.”

They spoke about war like Tolstoyans:

“It’s a sin to kill. Here you shoot, kill, and he has a wife, children at home…”

Among the soldiers there were “Bolsheviks” of three types: I would define them as “dreamers”, “embittered” and (with a word that became classical) “self-seekers”.

There were few “dreamers”, just like few people confirmed that their idea was right in general. The most outstanding of them, “comrade B.”, reminded me of a sectarian. He fought all the time against some “remains and prejudices”. Any small thing stopped him: “why is it made so — it all must be changed!” He deeply and firmly believed everything could be rebuilt. His plans were naïve and absurd. He was equally indignant with the colonial politics and hand shakes. Wanted to input Esperanto and polygamy. But he believed in all that with purity of a child and devotion of a Medieval heretic. Bolshevism charmed him with its radicalism and straightness. He thought out projects: “to publish in Switzerland a booklet about French atrocities”, “to care about physical perfection of soldiers” etc. He could not argue, or just listen to someone who disagreed with him. A mild person by his nature, he was ready to shoot any “unbeliever” who doubted at least in advantage of Esperanto. His ideas were little understood by soldiers. But there were minutes when his true thirst for justice and better life inspired the crowd. Especially close to the soldiers were the thoughts that “everyone is equal” and that “war is a sin”.

There were many more “embittered”. I knew the soldier D. In the first revolution, a boy yet, he turned out in the jail for a proclamation. The policemen beat him. Later, in the war, a praporshchik from students slapped him in the face. Nervous, resentful, he scolded all the time — whom? It seemed everyone! He had no political views, called himself “Bolshevik” and always supported the most extreme propositions. He spoke hysterically, with shouts, about flogging, about scuffling — about how “the officer scum sleep in feather beds with girls and gorge pastes”. He strongly impressed the soldiers.

Once I walked with him in Paris, through the Luxembourg Garden. He pointed at girls who played hoop rolling and darkly said:

“See, they play… clear ones… I’d slaughter them…”

All the rest was “self-seekers”, i.e. perfectly ordinary peasants, exhausted during three years of the war, who decided they could avoid death with resolutions and come back to home. First they were ashamed to talk about that, but then they began proudly to call themselves “Bolsheviks”.

XVII

By June a split became ripe. One brigade perceived “Bolshevism” almost entirely and demanded to send it to Russia. The other one resisted. Its leader was the soldier K., that very one who spoke about victory of the proletariat at the May celebration. But among the “loyal” regiments there was ferment, too. Drunkenness started. The soldiers died of anguish. There were two cases of suicide…

One soldier killed another one. The murderer was going to be hung on a tree. The session of the regiment committee took place at the night. It was knocked in the window.

“Why is the beer store closed?”

“But who are you? Of which company?”

“Ah, you want to take our names, to confine us. It shan’t pass!.. You too! Committee!.. Overfed! Like officers, even worse!..”

In an hour came others: “the second company has come to drive the committee away”. And every day was like that. The committees lost any influence. The matter was nearly over.

In July occurred the final division into the majority of “rebellous” and the minority of “loyal”. They were placed in different camps. The “rebellous” were in Auvergne, near the place La Courtine. Among them reigned chaos and depression. Desperate drunkenness started. Local habitants feared Russians to death. Such scenes happened. Two drunk soldier were walking. In the opposite direction went a French girl. Seeing Russians, she ran back.

“Ah, you wretch!.. she runs!.. Take this!” And the soldier shoots at the girl.

It was from boredom. All the day people sat half-dressed, played harmonica, gambled cards, drank and languished. The French cordoned the soldiers off like lepers and let nobody out. So went the days…

In July of 1917 I went from France. In Petrograd I stated the events and together with delegates of both brigades pointed at the necessity to return the Russian troops to Russia immediately. About what happened I know only from random and confusing tidings. There was all the same what was in Russia: some soldiers fought against others, somebody was shot at and someone disarmed someone. Embittered and bullied in the foreign land, among the hostile population, they all — both officers and soldiers, both “rebellous” and “loyal” — had to went act by act through our great tragedy.