A hundred years ago this year, Russia overthrew a monarchy and started off on a path that eventually led to 70 years of communism.
As publishers of books on Russian culture (www.fontanka.co.uk) we wanted to trace the events of this momentous year week by week, in personal testimony and memoir.
Here’s Part 2: April-June 1917.
1 April Diary entry of Louis de Robien, attaché at the French Embassy The famous Allied socialist deputies arrived yesterday at Finland Station. Representing France: Cachin, Lafont, and Moutet — two professors of philosophy and a lawyer. Representing England: O’Grady and Thorne, a cabinet-maker and a plumber … I decidedly prefer the English socialists! (Louis de Robien, The Diary of a Diplomat in Russia 1917–1918, London 1969)
Diary entry of Georges-Maurice Paléologue, French Ambassador to Russia …French socialism is thus represented by intellectuals with a classical education, English socialism by manual workers, ‘matter-of-fact men’. Theory on one side, practice on the other … When [the French socialists] left me, they went to the Champ-de-Mars to lay a wreath on the grave of the victims of the revolution, just as in the old days the envoys of the French Republic used to go to the Fortress of SS. Peter and Paul to place a wreath on the tomb of Alexander III. As Sainte-Beuve wrote: ‘Life is nothing but seeing everything and the reverse of everything.’ (Maurice Paléologue, An Ambassador’s Memoirs 1914–1917, London 1973)