September 01, 2017

1917 Diary

In a popular 1935 Soviet film, Three Comrades, soldiers sing a song by Mikhail Svetlov: “We are a peaceful people, but our armored train is at the depot standing by.” In the fall of 1917, the proverbial armored train was not standing anywhere – it was barreling ahead at full speed toward an uncertain future. Everyone could sense that momentous changes were coming at them fast.

With each passing day, Prime Minister Alexander Kerensky was losing supporters. The ground was giving way beneath the Provisional Government – and beneath Russia itself. As the government’s hold on power faltered, Kerensky turned to society. Throughout September and until the revolution became a fait accompli, he was engaged in meetings, negotiations, and inter-party debates. Little good it did him.

Many years later, in memoirs written from exile (Kerensky spent more than half his life in exile; he died, all but forgotten, in New York in 1970), he looked back on the nightmarish autumn of 1917:

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