February 01, 1996

Of Courage and Struggle

The late historian, Dmitri Volkogonov, in his revealing biography of Lenin (which drew heavily on secret archives) concluded that “indirect evidence shows that the order to execute the royal family was given verbally by Lenin and Sverdlov.” Given Lenin’s pronouncements before and after the revolution, and given the murders, persecution and forced exile of hundreds of thousands of gentry after 1917, this revelation should not be surprising.

What is perhaps more surprising is that there are still remnants of a Russian gentry. And that they have the courage and tenacity to struggle to regain their prestige and traditions in the Russia of 1996. Their story, related by Andrei Polyakovsky, is our cover story this month. It begins on page 4.

This month’s Travel Journal on Vyazma echoes these themes of courage and tenacity. Bequeathed an unenviable geographical position along a main battle route with the west, Vyazma has, for a millennia, suffered the ravages of war and empire-building. William Brumfield has brought us a wonderful look at the architectural sites that have endured.

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