from ‘The Great War’ vol. 4, edited by H.W. Wilson, Chapter 82
'An Inside View of Russia in War Time'
by John Foster Fraser, Author of "Russia To-day," "The Real Siberia," etc.

The Empire of the Czars at War

the Czar and staff at a St. Petersburg hospital

 

The Glow of Religious Sentiment over the Whole of Muscovy—The Tsar Crushes the Vodka Peril—Germany Calculates on Revolutionary Trouble, but the Unprecedented Patriotism of all Parties Preserves Russian Union—A War Waged Not by the Russian Government but by the Russian People—Development of Public Opinion Puts Down Official Profiteers—Attitude of the Baltic Province Russians—" Russia for the Russians "—The Fire of Animus against the Germans—How the War Affected Industrial Russia—Neutrals and the Rush for Contracts—Supplies Held Up by Lack of Communications—Warsaw Before its Evacuation—Caring for the Refugees from Galicia—The Imperial Family and Hospital Work—Affection for the Tsar-Russia and Her Allies.

 

reservists in Moscow

 

Notwithstanding the reverses to which her giant Army was subjected. Holy Russia never questioned the result of the war. France remained animated by a splendid chivalry, and Britain was determined at whatever cost to defend her Empire. It was, however, not so much the spirit of nationality which bound the one hundred and sixty million people of Russia together as a deep-seated abiding belief that their holy country could never be subject to an alien Power.

You have to understand the religious sentiment which permeates the whole of Muscovy to appreciate how the Russians felt in regard to the conflict which was waged on her frontiers. She had her set-backs. Millions of her sons yielded their lives, but the end had to be—the Russian mind was incapable of thinking otherwise — a victory for Holy Russia.

It is this state of thought which made Russia in war time so incomprehensible to the foreigner. The people were moody and emotional, poetical rather than practical, and while bad news depressed them, good news never elated them. They took victories as a matter of course because they knew they were to come.

The Russians are in many ways the most charming people on the earth. They have the simplicity of children. Their hospitality is unbounded. A Russian will go out of his way, and spend much more than the condition of his purse justifies, to give the visitor a good time. He knows perfectly well that men of other countries look upon him as something of a savage, with a considerable tincture of wild Tartar blood in his veins. He is aware that, compared with other lands, he is backward; but he modestly reminds you that Russia, as a great people, has been in existence for not much more than one hundred years.

Yet with all its hindrances, the Russian Empire has widened and extended until the dawn of the twentieth century found it the greatest cohesive nation on the earth. Indeed, it had grown so much, and drawn within its territory so many people of other races, that it may be said to have become fenced around with non-Russian speaking Russians. It was its size, its majesty, which filled the imaginative Russian with the conviction that it had a mighty destiny, not to be interfered with by the incursions of German soldiery. We heard a great deal about the numberless millions of men which Russia could put into the field. From the cold regions below Archangel, from the warm lands in the region of the Caucasus, from the prairies beyond the Volga, and from the illimitable stretches of Siberia the Russian was called to arms. He responded, not because he had a thirst to slay Germans, but because he felt it his duty to defend Holy Russia. Frenchmen and Englishmen proceeded to war laughing and with gay songs upon their lips. Russian soldiers never do that. They go to their church and humbly pray before their ikons, the sacred pictures of their particular saints; they stand with bowed head while the picturesque and long-haired priests sprinkle holy water upon them, and then, singing hymns, they march to their fate, never letting go of the faith that whatever may befall, them individually, Holy Russia must be triumphant.

I was in Russia during a considerable part of the first year of the war. The thing that impressed me most of all was the calm confidence of the people. In Petrograd, in Moscow, the ancient capital, in all the great cities, life progressed much as it did in normal times. Business was conducted in the ordinary way. All the entertainments, the theatres, and the pleasure gardens were in full swing. It was only by witnessing hymn-singing battalions of soldiers marching through the streets, or coming across groups of pale-faced wounded fellows hobbling along, that one was reminded that a great war was in progress.

When the alarm was first sounded, the Russian authorities had a mighty difficulty to face. They remembered that during the Russo-Japanese War the efficiency of their men was much impaired by drunkenness. The principal beverage in the country was vodka, a fiery spirit mostly made from rye, the manufacture of which was a Government monopoly, and the effect of which was direful.

Germany calculated that the mobilisation of the Russian troops would be a slow and laborious process. The belief which prevailed in Berlin was, on the outbreak of hostilities, that first a swift blow should be levelled against France, and when France was in the dust, it would be time enough for the hordes of the Kaiser to sweep round and reckon with the soldiers of the Tsar.

 

portrait and photo of the Czar

 

But the Emperor William forgot the power of the Emperor Nicholas. The Tsar of All the Russias is the Little White Father to his people. Whatever order he issues is not in the nature of a law, but is a religious ordinance which must be obeyed. Therefore, swiftly grasping the necessity for action, the Emperor Nicholas issued his famous ukase, proclaiming that the Government manufacture of vodka should cease, so that the work of the Army should not be retarded by the drunkenness of the soldiers.

It is generally accepted that the Russian was a drunkard —as a matter of fact, the most drunken person in Europe. This is quite a mistake. The country where the least amount per head of the population in Europe is expended on alcohol is Norway. The country which comes next is Russia. Per head of the population, the Russian, in normal times, spends 18s. a year on drink, while in England the amount spent each year per head of the population is 66s. The difference is that, whereas in England the money is disbursed chiefly on so innocuous a beverage as beer, practically all the money in Russia was spent on this fierce-vodka spirit, which did tremendous harm physically, morally, and industrially to the subjects of the Tsar.

Forbidding the State manufacture of vodka did two things. It lopped off a revenue of 67.000,000 a year which went into the Imperial Exchequer, and it shut off the supply to the ordinary civilian. Freedom was given to the Zemstvos (local assemblies) and the municipalities to follow up the action of the Tsar in what way they pleased. With few exceptions, all the authorities throughout the realm, from Archangel to Tiflis and from Moscow to Vladivostok, prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol in any form. Not only was vodka removed, but the police put seals on cellars, and prevented the consumption of brandy, of wines, and of beer.

Within a few days the whole of Russia, which had been a byword to the world, became teetotal. In a constitutionally governed country such a thing would have been impossible. It was only by the exercise of autocracy that such a revolution could be effected in the land of the Tsar. Because the original command came from the Little White Father, the Russians accepted it without question.

It is not, however, to be assumed that even in these days men with money could not obtain wine and spirits by subterranean means. They could. But, speaking in a broad and general sense, it may be said that after the issue of the ukase ninety-nine per cent, of the people of Russia never touched a drop of alcohol. Drunkards, of course, were distressed, and had recourse to methylated spirit and other beverages. But that means of ministering to the appetite was checked, because even methylated spirit could not be procured except through complicated formalities, which practically put it out of the reach of the former toper.

The thing to be taken notice of is that, without demur, Russia fell in with the new condition of things. Temptation being removed, the artisans of the towns and the moujiks of the steppes, unable to dispose of their earnings as they did formerly, found themselves in possession of more money than ever they had before. They were able to spend it on better food, on giving better clothing to their children, in providing themselves with healthy amusements; and so, although in Russia the cost of living was materially increased in consequence of the war, the people were in every sense much better off than they were formerly.

The soldiers responded to the call of their monarch with greater alacrity than they would have been able to do if they had fuddled their brains in the vodka taverns. The speed with which Russia was able to mobilise was a marvel to the world. In the early weeks of the struggle, when the German armies were engaged in their first great attempt to sweep through the North of France and gain possession of Paris, it was the action of the Russian troops in the north-east, rushing into Prussia, until at one time there was a belief that nothing could restrain them from reaching Berlin, that caused the Kaiser to slacken the pressure on the western front. He required German troops to proceed and contest the progress of the Russians in the north-east.

Not only that, but the abstinence of the nation had a beneficial effect industrially. I have never placed the Russian workman high as an artisan; but the point is not to be missed that his efficiency was increased by at least fifteen — some people say twenty-five—per cent, owing to his inability to reach the vodka bottle.

Another great change which the war produced in Russia was the development of public opinion. It is not necessary to remind readers that in old days public opinion, such as it is understood in England, was non-existent in the dominions of the Tsar. The Government was paternal, it was autocratic, it watched over and cared for the people. Those who were irritable under constant surveillance, who hungered for a different condition of government than that which existed, and who gave vent to their views by joining in revolutionary movements, were harshly—and no doubt in many cases cruelly—treated.

One of the things which the German Government calculated upon was that, with Russia at war, the various revolutionary parties would endeavour to upset the existing regime, produce internal trouble, and so make Russia all the easier prey to Germany.

Now, for the first time within knowledge, the war was not waged by the Russian Government, but by the Russian people. The war of 1903 between Russia and Japan was regarded by the majority of the Russian people as a dispute between the Government and Japan. When Japan was able to overthrow Russia, the Russians themselves did not feel that their national dignity had been lowered. They accepted that a blow had been struck at the Government. The present war was from its outset different from that. Instead of the struggle on the frontiers providing the revolutionary party with a chance to push their propaganda into effect, it completely obliterated all political dissension throughout the whole of the Tsar's realms, in precisely the same way as political differences were sunk throughout the British Empire.

Doubtless many of the advanced thinkers looked to a change, for what they considered to be the better in the administration of affairs, when the war should be over. For the time being, however, the revolutionaries—the men who had been nurtured on Western ideas, who resented autocracy as out of date, and desired their country to be administered on lines akin to those which we have in England—were just as true and as loyal to their Emperor as were men who had spent their lives within the precincts of the Court. Men who were exiled because of their opinions voluntarily returned to Russia, risking imprisonment, but eager to be of some service to their Motherland.

Such loyalty, which I believe the Russian Government never contemplated, had its effect in another direction. The grip of autocratic administration was slackened. There was a revolution in progress in Russia, but it was all to the good. Men discussed what was happening in the world, and in Russia particularly, with a freedom which twenty months previously would have been impossible. Newspapers criticised Ministers in a manner which, if attempted a little while back, would have landed them in the Fortress of Peter and Paul, or have sent them on a long visit to Siberia. Public meetings were held, especially in Moscow. What was happening in the war was debated with as much freedom as in England itself. While at concerts, I heard songs loudly applauded, and with the police standing by, which would have meant the arrest of the singers, if not of the audience, but a couple of years before.

Russia had some incompetent Ministers. The public knew they were incompetent; they said so in conversation in the cafes; they said so at public meetings. Writers said so in newspaper articles. And the consequence was that a number of these inefficient highly-placed personages were removed.

The war gave birth to healthy public opinion in Russia. I cannot but believe that it will continue after the war, if no steps should be taken to prevent it. And, if it does not run wild—for it is not to be forgotten that the Russians are an emotional and easily led race—it will be for the permanent well-being of the body politic.

During the first year of the war there was a remarkable development of public consciousness that action should be taken—violent, if necessary—to remove the black spots which disfigured the national escutcheon. Nothing pained the high- minded Russian in the past more than the knowledge that in public as well as in commercial life Russia had done what honourable men could not defend. Everyone was aware that little business was transacted without someone taking what he would have called a "commission," but which others would have described as a bribe. Of course, there were officials actuated by as worthy motives as those in any land, and whose hands were clean. But in the past every Russian shrugged his shoulders and was ready to admit that the accomplishment of services was slow, chiefly because there was someone who needed a little—and occasionally a very large—stimulus to do his duty.

In what is called corruption, Russia is no worse than some other lands which consider themselves enlightened; but the practice of men receiving payment to do their duty was far too prevalent. In great Government contracts there were officials who wanted their commission from the manufacturer before the documents were allowed to go forward to the Minister to sign them. Right down to the humble policeman, badly paid, the same practice was usual. In most ordinary business transactions, the straightforward deal was generally held up by someone who wanted to know what his commission was to be before the negotiations advanced to completion.

That was the state of things before the war. It was the state of things at the beginning of the war. The public, however, soon became acquainted with the fact that even the supply of munitions and war material of all sorts, so necessary for the equipment of the Army, were being retarded in delivery because of the pernicious practice of delay until the commission was arranged.

Then there swept through the nation a feeling of resentment, followed by a vociferous declaration that this sort of proceeding must cease. It would be idle to say that the frank indignation of the populace was the means of purifying public life. The point, however, I am making is that the Russians, who had been in the habit of acquiescing or explaining that the receiving of a reward by an official was an old custom, hard to remove, no longer defended it. It was vehemently denounced. There came forth a zealous belief that Russia was hampering herself by allowing such conditions to continue. There was clamour that certain prominent men, who were supposed to have exploited the necessities of their country to their own advantage, should be shot. The Government took the principal manufacturers into counsel, and all Government contracts had to pass through a special committee, thus preventing the "go-between" from lining his own pockets.

Everywhere I went I came across a vigorous campaign against the old practice. Officials in Russia were not too well paid. The defence often put forward for the niggardly pittance that was handed to them was that they could easily find other means to secure recompense for their labours.

The war not only stirred up the sentiment of the nation, but it moved men's minds to think of the future. One of the consequences of this was to create an ideal Russia in the popular imagination, where officials would be well paid for their labours, and where there would be purity in public life and fair dealing between men, so that the country, instead of being pointed at by other peoples, would be accepted as a model.

Thus it is to be seen that the conflict was not only one waged to overthrow the Germans. It was one between old habits and new ambitions, with the thought ever at the back of men's minds that not only would the unhappy days end by the repulsion of the invaders from Muscovite territory, but in the regeneration of Russia itself.

Another great change which was evolved during the first twelve months of the war was Russia's attitude toward other nations. Easy-going and poetical, visionary and religious, more given to theorising than to working, the Russian people awakened to the fact that in modern matters, commerce particularly, she had slipped under the domination of other races. It was the break with Germany which caused her to appreciate how dependent she had allowed herself to be upon neighbouring countries, particularly Germany.

Now it is to be remembered that a considerable section of Russian territory is comprised in what are known as the Baltic Provinces, where the people are not Slav, like the mass of the rest of the nation, but rather Teutonic in origin, with a part of the population speaking German as their usual tongue. It is not for me to dispute the loyalty of these Baltic Province Russians. But they have always regarded themselves as superior to the ordinary Russians; which, let it be admitted, they are in commerce and in manufacturing. For while the Slav is a dreamer, the Teuton is a practical man. With a German origin and bearing German names, it is not to be wondered at that many of these people had sympathy with the great progressive neighbouring country of Germany.

The Baltic Province Russians showed business aptitude. Travelling into the interior, establishing commercial concerns, finding that the needs of the country in manufactured articles could not be supplied by the Russians, they let Germany make good the deficiency. For a generation Russia was subjected to a much more drastic invasion than that which took place during 1915. It was a commercial invasion, which percolated throughout the land until it may be said that, from a trading point of view, Russia was but a colony of Germany. More than half the manufactured goods which went into Russia from abroad came from Germany. A vast proportion of the principal shops in the great cities carried German names. Official life was permeated by German-speaking Russians. So even in Government departments it was no unusual thing to find employees of the State conversing between themselves in the German language.

Beyond this, the war had not been in progress many weeks before the Russians became dimly aware—and ultimately glaringly aware—that subterranean endeavours were being made to swing public opinion in favour of Germany. Stories got about, no doubt ill-founded, that even in the highest circle Germanic influences were at work. The war compelled Russia to examine her own condition. She was alarmed. She heard rumours that there was a peace party in Russia, and that it was chiefly composed of people of German origin. She found her ears filled with scornful references to France and to Great Britain, and she discovered that the instigators were men with German names. There was a shortage of manufactured goods. There was not a household which was not brought to a realisation how great had been the hold on Russia by Germany.

It required no agitation to rouse the Russian people to a decision that too long had she been subservient to another Power, which had been exploiting them. Accordingly, there flamed into existence a movement which may be described as "Russia for the Russians." The questions were asked: Why should Russia purchase so much from Germany? Why could not Russia make more of the necessaries of life than she did? What was wrong with the skill of Russian working men that they did not produce a multitude of useful articles for themselves instead of paying Germany for them?

The asking of these questions led to a speedy decision. Russia must wake up, must cease her old-time stupor, must adapt herself to modern manufacturing conditions, must develop her own illimitable resources, must advance in industry without reliance upon other lands, and thus demonstrate to the world that she was not encompassed with a sort of semi-Oriental indolence, but was quick, alert, adaptive, and capable of taking her place alongside any of the Western nations.

That Russia will, within the lifetime of any of us, carry her present desires to the goal she has in vision is not to be accepted; but the war jogged the national liver, it stirred the latent national feeling, and caused Russia to take stock of her own potentialities and capabilities with the purpose of utilising them to the advantage of her own people.

What animated Russia most against the enemy was not so much the invasion of her territory as the bitterness engendered by the fear that Germany might impose her own commercial conditions upon Russia to the retardment of Russian industries. The firm determination to do more for herself, and accept less from the foreigner, was one of the direct results of the war.

Hatred towards the Germans developed to such an extent that the German tongue, although it had previously been the commercial language of the country, was prohibited. No one was allowed to talk German over the telephone; there were notices hung over the receivers threatening terrible punishments if such a thing were attempted. Hotels which had German names had to quickly change the description. In the big hotels of Petrograd, Moscow, and elsewhere, it was customary for notices to be hung up in three or four different languages for the instruction of visitors; but in every case German was obliterated. If anyone was heard speaking this language, there was a hue-and-cry, and frequently the offender was maltreated at the hands of an infuriated mob. Many people could not differentiate between German and English, and quite a number of cases came to my notice of both English men and English Women being insulted because over-ardent and patriotic Muscovites imagined they were speaking German. I myself was molested in a tramcar one morning, because I happened to be speaking English with a friend. Indeed, it is difficult to realise the intensity of the hatred toward Germany which grew up and increased in volume during the war.

I was witness of an explosion of public wrath in Moscow.

As already mentioned, most of the huge emporiums, though legitimately Russian, were conducted by men who, to their misfortune, bore German names. The folk of Moscow, always more vehement in their patriotism than the cosmopolitan population of Petrograd, frequently demonstrated against suspects of any kind being allowed to remain in the city, and conceived the idea that while the shops pretended to be Russian, they were in fact German.

With the breaking of a few windows, a riot commenced. Shops, dozens of them, were gutted; millions of roubles' worth of goods were cast into the streets, and appropriated or destroyed. Great clothing stores were reduced to ruins; valuable furniture was smashed to atoms; bookshops had their contents completely spoilt, and from the upper windows of music warehouses grand pianos were hurled into the thoroughfares, and there their demolition was completed. Under the new law, the wine and spirit vaults were under lock and key, and sealed; but the mob broke in and took possession of enormous quantities of liquor, and in one cellar where barrels of wine were broken open, there was a flood four feet deep, and at least a dozen men, overcome by the fumes, were drowned. Russians with German names, but whose families had been in the country for at least a century, men whose sons were actually fighting in the Russian Army, were chased by the crowd, caught, and some of them subjected to the most cruel deaths. The police apparently did nothing to check the disorder, not even when a number of the shops were set on fire. The best explanation is that the police seem to have regarded it to be their duty not to interfere with a patriotic demonstration.

For two days the rioting continued. Many were the lives that were sacrificed. It is right to say, however, that the Governor-General of the city, who was on a sick-bed when he heard of the outrages, sent soldiers into the disturbed districts. A few volleys into the crowd, killing between thirty and forty people, brought a quick cessation of the trouble. There was a Government inquiry, with the result that the chiefs of the police were removed from their offices. I mention this particular case as evidence of how swiftly the fire of animus flamed against the obnoxious Teutons.

It was a little singular that, while the passions of the people could scarcely be restrained against the Germans, comparatively little dislike was displayed toward the Austrians. It was my lot to see many prisoners marched through the streets. While the German soldiers were execrated, and they responded with sullen, scornful looks, a kindly sympathy was extended to the Austrian prisoners. The Germans marched along, black-browed and resentful; but the Austrians generally seemed merry, and exchanged chaffing remarks with the spectators. Most of the Germans were transferred to Siberia; but the majority of the Austrians were drafted into farming districts, where their labour could be utilised in tilling the land.

At Moscow there was little on the surface to suggest that the country was at war. Business proceeded as usual. It was only by seeing long ambulance trains at the railway - stations, by coming across long processions of wounded in the streets, by seeing the parade-ground within the Kremlin constantly occupied by troops under drill, and the little groups of open-mouthed spectators before the guns which had been captured from the enemy, that one was reminded of what was happening in the history of the world. A little investigation soon revealed that the nation was under the strain of war. There was a shortage of men's labour, so that in many occupations women had to be employed. A number of female tram - conductors were engaged. Then, owing to the check put upon the importation of manufactured articles, not only was there a scarcity, but prices considerably increased. Food rose to something approaching famine prices, and once or twice to my personal knowledge there was a distinct shortage of beef. This, however, was due not to lack of herds in Russia, but to the Government commandeering so many head of cattle in order to provide beef for the soldiers, who, in their peasant occupations during peace time, could rarely afford such a luxury.

 

 

I saw much of the Russian Army, and although it was short of many things, the commissariat department was efficient and the transport effective. No soldiers in this dreadful struggle were better fed or better clad than the troops of the Tsar.

It was very much the same in Petrograd, the official capital of the country. Hotel prices are always high in Russia; but they were never so high as during war time. One of the reasons was that the proprietors, deprived of their profits because of the stoppage in the sale of wines, endeavoured to recoup themselves by increasing the prices of everything else.

Russia, while possessing so enormous an Army, had been rather unpractical in her preparations for the great, inevitable bout between herself and Germany. In many respects she was caught unawares. Germany knew how ill-provisioned she was in munitions. Russia on her part had been casual in taking notice of what the long years of warlike preparation in Germany really meant.

Many of the absolute essentials for war could not be provided in Russia to equip a fair proportion of her soldiery. he had to seek supplies from abroad. The German market was shut off, and France and Britain were much too busy preparing for their own requirements to offer much assistance to Russia, though they did help in many ways.

The result was that the representatives of big manufacturing concerns in neutral countries descended upon Petrograd in considerable numbers. They were mostly Swedes and Americans. One of the biggest hotels in Petrograd was crowded with Americans who were seeking to secure contracts with the Russian Government. Many of them did. The difficult point was the delivery. War goods could enter Russia without much hindrance by means of the " back door," that is to say they could be landed at Port Arthur or Vladivostok, and brought into the country through Siberia. That, however, was a long and difficult route. The quickest ways were by Archangel and Odessa; but the gateway to Odessa through the Dardanelles had not been forced by the French and British Allies, and an entrance by way of the White Sea was hampered by the Arctic ice, which enclosed Archangel for several months of the year. It was this difficulty of getting absolutely necessary supplies from allied and neutral countries which had much to do with the compulsory retirement of the Russian troops. They were brave enough; but bravery without shells and general munitions did not count for a great deal.

 

 

However, there was great confidence in the ability of the British and French warships and soldiers to knock a way through the Dardanelles, clear the passage of the Bosphorus, and thus provide an open route from the outer world to Odessa. As a preliminary to this, the chiefs of the principal trading firms went to Odessa, furnished offices, and laid the train not only for supplying the soldiers with requisites from England and America, but also for providing the civilian population with goods, which these countries could supply, and for which the people were in need.

Russia was hard put to it to obtain supplies from abroad. During the dark days of winter, the only means through which she could receive help from Britain and France was by way of Sweden. The population of Sweden was not particularly enthusiastic over the cause of the Allies. It could not be said that Sweden put facilities in the way of communication. Sweden had long been under the intellectual spell of Germany, and, while the folk of this part of Scandinavia did not look with a fond eye upon the manner in which German goods were flooding the country, they had, according to their point of view, less to fear from Germany than from Russia, because the Swedes had long nursed a dread that if ever Russia had the power, she would cut a way from Finland across the northern parts of Sweden and Norway, and create for herself a port on the North Sea.

The Swedish attitude was not dictated by any resentment toward Great "Britain, although the Swedish trading classes did not like ships being held up by the British Admiralty on the ground that the cargoes, while destined for Sweden, were really intended for Germany.

It was perfectly natural that Sweden should not wish to incur the enmity of Germany. Therefore it can be easily understood that, when she provided the only route between France, Britain, and Russia, her authorities did not go out of their way to help in the conveyance of goods to the enemy of Germany.

I travelled that route—across the North Sea from Newcastle to Bergen, thence to Stockholm, then due north to the real " land of the midnight sun," and to the very edge of Lapland, round the top of the Gulf of Bothnia, and so across the Swedish frontier into Finland and down to Petrograd—a journey occupying eight days.

There was only a single line to the north of Sweden. There was no railway communication with Finland. The Russians laid a temporary line on the frozen earth to a place opposite Karungi, on the Swedish side of the Tornea River; but when this fell into disuse owing to the spring thaw, it was necessary to convey all goods by vehicle a distance of some twenty miles along the frontier, and then ferry across the Tornea River to a point where the Finnish railway could be touched.

Taking goods into Russia by this means in bulk was an impossibility. The Swedes themselves made a very close examination to prevent the transit of medical supplies.

The only plan by which articles from France and England could be sent to Russia was through the agency of the parcels post. Thus it was that millions of small packages travelled by means of that circuitous route. I saw train-loads upon trainloads of parcels taking sections of small machinery into the country, where they could be put together. All this was very hampering and most expensive, and will convey to the mind of the British reader to what a pass our Russian ally was put.

But with the coming of spring, although the Karungi route was still available, large articles, such as machinery, had to be taken into Russia by way of the White Sea and Archangel. As soon as the ice broke, fleets of merchant ships made their way to Russia's northern port, although many of them were impeded, or prevented altogether, by the enemy submarines, which were on the watch at the mouth of the White Sea.

The single line from Archangel to the south was in process of being doubled. It was over these metals that Russia got most of her supplies during the summer of 1915. Ordinary merchandise had practically to be ignored, the railway was requisitioned by the military authorities. Mountains of goods were stacked on the quay-sides at Archangel, exposed to damage by reason of the tempestuous weather. Traders also suffered to a considerable extent. The Manufacturers' Association of Moscow, however, did what was best in the circumstances—sent representatives to Archangel, and by the utilisation of the waterways in that part of the world were able to forward much merchandise, though the delay was great. With the prospect of a famine in particular articles, several representatives of the principal Moscow firms made research throughout the Empire, particularly in towns where trade had come to a standstill, and were able to purchase from the retailers many of their goods, and forward them to Moscow and to Petrograd.

The war, instead of reducing the populations of the great cities, increased them. The wealthier classes, who had been in the habit of travelling abroad, principally to German spas, remained at home. They did not even go to Yalta, the beautiful watering-place in the Crimea; nor did many of them take up their abode on their country estates. They were anxious to keep in touch with what was happening in the great drama. They remained in the capital, or took up their residence in Moscow, Kieff, Jaroslav, and other centres. There Was a great inflow of refugees from Poland and from the south-western districts of the country.

For months Warsaw, the capital of Poland, was a hustling military centre. Most of the troops intended to fight the Germans in the north-eastern theatre were sent that way. Endless processions of regiments marched through the streets, unarmed in many cases, for the soldiers were to receive their rifles at the front; which meant that they were to get their weapons from brother soldiers who were wounded, or to have them passed on from men who were dead.

Hotels were packed with Russian officers. Though the boom of the guns could be heard, and German aeroplanes frequently flew over the city, life proceeded gaily enough. There was little news of what was taking place at the fighting-fine, except that the return of enormous convoys of wounded men indicated that the resistance to the invaders had been stubborn. Weeks before the actual evacuation took place, there were indications of what was going to happen. The treasury was removed; the wives of officials were provided with permits to leave; British residents were given the hint they had better clear out. So matters proceeded until within the last few days, when there Was a rush of people making their escape before the enemy entered the city. Never was railway traffic so congested. Civilians had to be content with travelling under disagreeable conditions in cattle trucks. The journey from Warsaw to Moscow took over two days. Thus Moscow had a larger population than in normal times.

It was the same down at Kieff, the Holy City of Russia. Refugees from the region of Galicia all made for this town. Thousands of them came without any possessions except the clothing in which they stood. It says much for the warm-heartedness of the Russians that, although there was little organisation, kindness and hospitality to the unfortunate were abounding, and for fifty miles around there was scarcely a house which did not shelter and care for some family which had been obliged to fly before the invaders. Thus the big towns were well' filled, and although prices rose abnormally, trade was brisk.

There were periods when the Russians were depressed. They knew of the sacrifices which they were making, and there was little opportunity for them to learn what their Allies were doing.

They became somewhat critical. They recalled how, When the French and British Were being pressed by the Germans on the western front in the autumn of 1914, the Russians put up a vigorous attack in the north-east in order to draw off some of that pressure, and they asked the question why, when they were being pressed in Poland and Galicia, the French and British Armies did not act vigorously in order to withdraw some of the German pressure on the Russian front? They mourned that the passage of the Dardanelles had not been forced. They grieved that the ammunition which they expected from their Allies was prevented from being delivered. Still, though depressed, they were determined. Always at the back of their thoughts was the conviction that, whatever might be the mishaps, they Were temporary, and that the foe must ultimately be decimated or repulsed.

No better proof of the spirit which animated the nation could be found than the way in which the whole of the civilian population recognised what was incumbent upon it. Slowly—for the Russian is incapable of doing things quickly—munition factories were organised, and the people set about producing war material for their troops. Frequently there was such a shortage that the soldiers were obliged to retire long distances before the superior equipment of the Germans. In time that trouble was surmounted. Within their capabilities, not so great as those of England, all the factories of Russia Were engaged in turning out munitions of war.

It has been said, and rightly, that the people of Russia, the civilian population, did more than the Government itself. The Government attended to all military matters, the arming and the provisioning of the troops. Everything else was left to organisations and private individuals. For instance, the whole of the nursing of the wounded was left to the Red Cross Society and Russia's innumerable benevolent institutions. The Russian Red Cross Society had been active for many years, because within the scope of its operations was the improvement of the housing of the poorer classes, as well as the care of the sick.

Practically all the ladies of the better classes engaged in hospital work. Each province, every Zemstvo, and every municipality had not only to look after the injured, but also to make provision for the dependents of the fighting men. Representatives of all the local authorities met, and schemes Were drawn up whereby each district could do its share in caring for the maimed or sick. Some municipalities could accept a thousand men; others were only able to look after fifty men. Above this, all private individuals with houses of any size set apart either the whole dwelling or a certain number of rooms, and undertook at their own charge to minister to the wants of the poor fellows. The consequence of all this was that the wounded and the poor were looked after as a result of municipal or private philanthropy.

You could not take a Walk in any of the main streets of the big towns, or drive through any of the villages, without constantly seeing the Red Cross flag, indicating the existence of a hospital, great or small. Of course, some of these hospitals were much better equipped than others. But within their means, all sections of the community gave freely. What Russia accomplished in looking after the sufferers should be remembered for all time by those who are disposed to criticise what takes place in the land of the Tsar. The Dowager-Empress was at the head of the Red Cross Society, while the Empress, herself and her daughters, the Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana, not only made comforts for the wounded, but gave the lead to other ladies by taking their share in hospital nursing.

 

 

The love of Russia accentuated affection for the Little White Father. His Majesty ultimately took command of the Russian Army, but long before then he had shown solicitude for his soldiers by travelling to the seat of war, and by visiting the Cossack soldiers who were fighting below the Caucasus. He went to arsenals, and witnessed the manufacture of implements of war; he paid informal and quite unostentatious visits to hospitals— arriving often in a simple carriage, and attended by a single aide- de-camp—moving amongst the wounded, talking to them, and addressing the humblest private as "Brother."

All of which goes to demonstrate not only how Russia faced her ordeals, but how the war changed her aspect upon the world in general, and stiffened her in the determination that in the future she would be more worthy of her ideals.

Russia came to appreciate the good qualities of her Allies. For two generations she had had unstinted admiration of British institutions. It would be idle to contend that she could ever graft these on to her Constitution, or adapt them to the peculiar Slav temperament. The war, however, brought the whole body of the Russian people to know more about the British Empire than ever they did before. They were happy in the knowledge that the people of Great Britain were getting a better understanding of Russia, were dropping the old story-book conception of it as a land of bleakness and cruelty, and were coming to realise that, with innumerable drawbacks, it had many phases of life from which other nations might learn much.

 

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