These diary entries
are written from the perspective of a factory worker during the Russian revolution
. Because I want to inject a lot of historical content into these logs, the factory worker
happens to know a lot about the events that are going on. However, I don't believe his knowledge base is overly unrealistic
I decided to take an interesting perspective in the character writing these diary entries. Vladmir Visiliovich (if that is a real persons name then it is only by coincidence) is a factory worker who though loyal to the Tsar is forced to pretend to be a Bolshevik supporter out of fear.
One final note: There are quite a few grammatical errors in the journals. Please don't message me about them for they are there for effect. To be a factory worker who can write is somewhat exceptional, to expect perfect grammar is absurd. Other than that, enjoy!
Jan 1st, 1917
I was not born to live in these times of turmoil. At least not in this place, Russia, the country I love. I am torn apart daily as I go through life as a supporter of the Bolsheviks, while in reality being a lover of the Tsar. Let me give a bit of background about myself. My name is Vladmir Visiliovich but people usually call me Vlad. I was born on February 17th, 1882 in Siberia (yes, people actually do live in that god-forsaken place). I've come a long way since then though. Now I am "happily" living in Petrograd or the former Saint Petersburg. If it were 20 years ago, those quotations would not be necessary, but they certainly are now.
My wife is the lovely Svetlana… she is all that brings me through these troublesome times. I am one of the many factory workers in Petrograd. I, like the rest of us am a member of the soviet; in fact I am the head of the soviet for my factory, the Petrograd Shoe Factory. I wonder how many others are pretending to support the Bolsheviks, like myself, compared to the deluded masses that truly believe in their cause. I have started writing these journals to commemorate the New Year. I hope these records can be of some use to someone someday….
Jan 13th, 1917
Today I reflect. My mind wanders back to the year of 1905, to a Sunday that was exactly 12 years ago. First a bit of background… A man, a priest rather, Father Gapon came to us from the Tsar. He did not come to preach to us though… oh, no - he came to collect our grievances. Finally a chance to let the Tsar know of the troubles of daily life and to let him help us out of our situations.
We did not ask much. For myself I needed only a 9 hour work day, although the general consensus was on one of 8 hours. The minimum daily wage we asked for of one ruble was barely a pittance, and to ask the removal of crooked politicians makes sense. Perhaps some went too far in asking for a representative government, but still the events that transpired after we submitted our grievances are absurd.
Marching happily and unarmed and singing, 200,000 of us approached the Winter Palace. We were chanting "God save the Tsar," and overall just happy that he finally was listening to us. Little did we know that he was not in the city, yet still, even so, the troops should never have reacted with such brutality. The day is not known as "Bloody Sunday" for nothing. All of a sudden they started to shoot at us, killing hundreds!!!
Big mistake… the love for the Tsar most of the people there who were, instantly turned to hatred. The people took this to mean that the Tsar is not their friend, that he is with the rich who pay us nothing and make us work long ours in unsafe conditions. For myself, I realized that he was not there, and that it was not his fault, but almost all who were loyal before lost their loyalty on that day.
January 20th, 1917
I write to take my mind off the current situation. I must now admit that the Tsar has failed us, but I will not even consider that these Bolsheviks whom I call my "friends," could be any better. They are fools for the most part. They run around trying to convince us all that we need a new government just to get some reforms. Every time we ask for more food or more money or less working hours, the Bolsheviks tack on to the request, "and a new government." I think that it is only because of them that the reforms have not occurred. The Tsar wants to punish us for the rebellious nature of some, and thus he fails in treating simple the rest of us well.
Right now the situation is not good. We live in almost unbearable poverty. I am not only short of fuel, clothing, meat, butter, and sugar, but even bread. When I think about how bad my situation is though, I can only wonder in amazement of the fate of my brother in the army who from what I have heard is in an even worse situation than I am. He has no supplies, no guns, no ammo, and no food. Almost all of his companions have deserted, but he, like myself, is completely loyal. He will never see home again.
March 3rd, 1917
The events that have occurred over the last month are incredible. It all started on February 20, the day the hunger became too much. It seems as if everyone is on strike or rioting… I am out there parading with the rest of them, making a fool of myself. Why? Because if I don't, I'll be an outcast, and I'll lose my job, and without my job I'll die. It may sound depressing, but that's the way life is.
On the 23rd, even the women joined in the protests against the Tsar. The bakeries were all looted, and even the Cossacks, the Tsar's most loyal soldiers refused to fire back on the revolutionaries to break up the riots. From then on the results are pretty easy to see.
Over the next few days the crowds increased and increased. A few policemen remained loyal and shot at the rioters but most changed sides and of course the others, not wanting to get killed, soon followed. Then of course the Okrana got sacked. I got dragged into that one, and did my share of torching the poor Tsar's documents. His secret police appear to have escaped for the most part unharmed though, for none were to be found anywhere. If I were a member of the Tsar's secret police, I'd probably help attack the Okrana as the only way I could survive.
Then on March 2nd it happened… Our beloved (at least by the few others and myself who remain loyal in hiding) was forced to abdicate. It was as though the world collapsed. Russia has been under a Tsar my whole life, my father's entire life, and even my father's father's life. I had always assumed that we will have a Tsar forever. He was a permanent force, but now he is no more….
May 26th, 1917
Over the last months I've gained more and more power in the soviet, but I can't use any of it the way I would like to. I was elected to the Petrograd soviet from my factory soviet, but if I do anything against Lenin's desires I know I'll be ousted. Really I have no impact - just another body to fill the room.
We've been directed by Lenin to shun the provisional government. The chance the people finally have of having influence in the government is being turned down by the power of one man as by shunning the provisional government the constituent assembly is ruined as well. As well, Lenin is of course going on about his "worldwide revolution." No one believes in it, and if he weren't such a convincing speaker I would wonder if he himself even did.
There is only one thing that Lenin is working towards that I agree with, and that is an end to war. The provisional government is trying to keep the war going and the people are not happy with that. My brother died on the front long ago, but word only recently reached me. There is no discipline out there anymore, and no one in Petrograd wants to go join and help the soldiers. Of course this would mean more riots, which of course I have to lead as a prominent member of the soviet… Sometimes I think I should just quit the soviet, renounce bolshevism, and face the consequences.
July 17th, 1917
The Russian army is in tattered ruins. Our first and last offensive after the revolution turned out to be a miserable attempt, which produced miserable results. The fact that the provisional government and almost all the socialists except for the Bolsheviks allied with the provisional government means that just about every political party in Russia is now in disgrace except for the Bolsheviks.
As if that didn't make the provisional government look bad enough they delayed the convening of the constituent assembly which is obviously a stupid mistake. They do so in the hopes of retaining power, but by retaining power in their current form they only weaken themselves since the Bolsheviks look good now. There is no party in Russia for me right now. If only we could resolve all these issues and get the Tsar back on the throne were he belongs…
On July 4th Kerensky became prime minister of the provisional government. His goal? To wipe out the Bolsheviks. Kerensky hired a new general Kornilov to command the troops in an attempt to pretty much destroy Bolshevism. It is so ironic that my wellbeing is now threatened because I belong to a political affiliation that I don't even believe in, but that's the way life is.
October 4th, 1917
Kornilov turned out to be a bad decision for Kerensky. I would be happy except that the guy failed, and the only one gaining from it was Lenin. Lenin is gaining in power, and technically, as to my position I should be happy. I miss the good old days though, a stable government and a system we knew and understood under the Tsar. The events going on lately are, to put it bluntly, chaos. Lenin is so blind to everything but his cause that he doesn't see how few people truly support him. Perhaps there are not many Bolsheviks like myself who don't support him, but if he were to take a poll he'd find out that his revolution is not one of the people, but one that only he himself wants.
Anyways, back to Kornilov. Basically after Kerensky let him take over the military he decided that he wants to use the military to take over the government. Give the man a stick, and he'll take a… err… uhh…. bigger stick. What ended up happening is that we had to make the red guard a whole lot bigger to be able to defend. I of course was the captain for my factory's portion of the red guard, and we took a few smaller factories under our wing too. It turned out to be pretty pointless though. Before they even made it into Petrograd, all of Kornilov's soldiers betrayed him and refused to move on.
Since then not too much has happened… Trotsky is the head of the Petrograd soviet now, and my power has been lessening (not that I ever really had much) because they say that I'm not dedicated enough to the cause. Lenin has his new shout out of "Peace, land, bread!" but really before this whole revolution thing started we didn't need peace because our army was more effective, we had bread, and the land was less of an issue because farms were more productive. Basically now everything is all screwed up.
November 30th, 1917
Well… we move from one bad government to another. After weeks upon weeks of preparation we were finally ready to make the move on Kerensky and his pals in the provisional government. You'd think that they would be able to be smart enough to see what was coming, but even if they did they didn't accomplish much. I had no faith in their government but neither did I have faith in the government that was soon to replace it. Nor do I now.
The only thing this new government is good at is getting rid of old governments it seems. The preparations for this assault on the provisional government that is supposedly a revolution are immense. I am given so many orders of what I must do with the small portion of the red army must do that I have no time left even to work. There are some who protest against the upcoming insurrection but they are persecuted and sometimes killed so I remain silent.
On the 25th the attack began and on the 26th the attack ended. The city was hours, but how long can we hold it? Knowing the planning that has gone into this I would have to say forever, as unfortunate as it may seem. I have no clue what the future holds for us, buy my little part of holding a bank (I still don't understand the logic behind that) helped us move forwards towards socialism… What will happen next? Only time will tell.
December 3rd, 1921
It has been a long time since I have written, but many events have gone on in my life that make this journal seem meaningless. My wife is dead. She was killed during the civil war. Just thinking of her makes me hurt, and the whole time of civil war is a time that I'd rather forget. If only we'd just kept with the Tsar…. then life would have been so different.
It seems that none of the other governments in the world like Lenin too much. We've been attacked by so many countries that I can't keep them all straight, and since 1918 I've been working full time as part of the red army (which the red guard became after communism became the governing system). And then of course there are all the attacks from within Russia, hence the term: civil war.
It does seem to be finally over now though. Perhaps at last things will settle down and we'll have a semblance of order….