In 1918-1920 Bunin recorded in the form of diary notes his immediate observations and impressions of events in Russia. 1918 he called “damned”, and from the future expected something even more terrible.
Bunin writes ironically about the introduction of a new style. He mentions “the Germans started attacking us,” which everyone welcomes, and describes the incidents that he saw on the streets of Moscow.
A young officer enters the tramcar and says embarrassedly that he “can not, unfortunately, pay for the ticket.”
Returns to Moscow critic Derman – fled from Simferopol. He says that there is “indescribable horror”, soldiers and workers “walk right up to their knees in the blood.” Some old man-colonel was roasted
“It is not yet time to understand the Russian revolution impartially, objectively…” This is heard now every minute. But this impartiality will never be, and our “bias” will be very dear to the future historian. Is the “passion” of the “revolutionary people” only important?
In a tram of hell, clouds of soldiers with bags – fleeing Moscow, fearing that they will be sent to defend Petersburg from the Germans. The author meets a soldier boy, ragged, skinny and smashed intoxicated. The soldier stumbles upon the author, staggering back, spits at him and says: “Despot, son of a bitch!”.
On the walls of the houses are posted posters, which are incriminating Trotsky and Lenin in that they are bribed by the Germans. The author asks the friend how many these scoundrels have received. The friend with a grin answers – decently.
The author asks poloters what will happen next. One of them answers: “And God knows… That will be: they let criminals come from prisons, here they control us” and adds that we should shoot them out of the “filthy gun”, and with the tsar this was not.
The author accidentally hears a telephone conversation, in which an order is given to shoot an adjutant
Again some kind of manifestation, banners, posters, singing in hundreds of sips: “Get up, get up, work the people!”. Voices are uterine, primitive. The faces of women are Chuvash, Mordovian, in men, all as for selection, criminal, others are directly Sakhalin. The Romans put stigmas on the faces of their convicts. You do not need to put anything on these faces, and you can see everything without any stigma.
The author remembers the “Lenin’s article”, an insignificant and fraudulent one – that of the International, then “the Russian national upsurge”. Hearing Lenin’s speech at the “Congress of Soviets,” the author calls him “animal.”
The whole Lubyanka Square glitters in the sun. Liquid mud splashes from under the wheels, soldiers, boys, bargaining with gingerbread, halva, poppies, cigarettes – real Asia. The soldiers and workers, passing by trucks, muzzles triumphant. In the kitchen of a friend – a fat soldier. He says that socialism is impossible now, but the bourgeoisie must be cut.
Odessa, April 12, 1919 (according to the old style). Dead, empty port, crap town. The post office has not been working since the summer of 17, since, for the first time, the European way, the “Minister of Posts and Telegraphs” has appeared. Then the first “Minister of Labor” appeared, and all of Russia quit working. Yes, and Satan Cain’s anger, bloodthirstiness and the most wild arbitrariness, he breathed on Russia in the days when brotherhood, equality and freedom were proclaimed.
The author often recalls the indignation with which he was seen as if entirely black images of the Russian people. The people, fed by the very literature, who disgraced the priest, the philistine, the philistine, the bureaucrat, the policeman, the landowner, the prosperous peasant, all the classes except the horseless “people” and the tramps were indignant.
Now all the houses are dark. The light burns only in robber dens, where chandeliers are burning, balalaikas are heard, walls are seen hung with black banners with white skulls and inscriptions: “Death to the bourgeois!”.
The author describes a fiery fighter for the revolution: in the mouth of saliva, eyes fiercely look through the crooked hanging pince-nez, the necktie climbed out onto the dirty paper collar, the vest wrapped up, on the shoulders of the kurguz jacket – dandruff, sebaceous liquid hair disheveled. And this adder is obsessed with “a fiery, selfless love for man,” “a thirst for beauty, goodness and justice”!
There are two types in the people. In one dominates Russia, in the other – Chud. But in both of them there is a terrible changeability of moods and guises. People themselves say to themselves: “Out of us, as from a tree, – and a club, and an icon.” It all depends on who the tree processes: Sergius Radonezhsky or Emelka Pugachev.
“From victory to victory, the new successes of the valiant Red Army… The shooting of 26 Black Hundreds in Odessa…”
The author expects that a wild robbery will begin in Odessa, which is already going on in Kiev – “collection” of clothes and shoes. Even in the daytime in the city it’s scary. Everyone is at home. The city feels conquered by someone who seems to the inhabitants worse than the Pechenegs. And the conqueror trades with trays, spits seeds, “covers mat”.
According to Deribasovskaya or moving a huge crowd that accompanies the red coffin of some rogue, issued for the “fallen fighter”, or black jackets playing on the harmonies, dancing and shouting sailors: “Eh, an apple, where kotishsya!”.
The city becomes “red”, and immediately the crowd is changing, filling the streets. On new faces there is no ordinary, simplicity. All of them are sharply repulsive, frightening the evil stupidity, gloomy-holovy challenge to all and all.
The author recalls the Field of Mars, where he performed, as a kind of sacrifice of the revolution, a funeral comedy “fallen for the freedom of heroes.” According to the author, it was a mockery of the dead, who were deprived of an honest Christian burial, boarded up in red coffins and unnaturally buried in the heart of the city alive.
A quote from Izvestia astounds the author with his own language: “The peasants say, give us a commune, just to save us from the Cadets…”.
Signature under the poster: “Do not bother, Denikin, on someone else’s land!”.
In the Odessa “emergency room” a new manner of shooting – over a cupboard cup.
“Warning” in the newspapers: “In connection with the complete depletion of fuel, electricity will soon not be.” In one month everything was processed – factories, railways, trams. There is no water, no bread, no clothes – nothing!
Late in the evening, together with the “commissar” at home, the author is to measure the length, width and height of all rooms “for sealing by the proletariat.”
Why the commissar, why the tribunal, and not just the court? Because only under the protection of such sacred-revolutionary words can one boldly walk knee-deep in the blood.
The main feature of the Red Army men is promiscuity. In the teeth a cigarette, dull eyes, insolent ones, a cap on the back of the head, “head of hear” falls on the forehead. Are dressed in the national team dud. The sentries are sitting at the entrances of requisitioned houses, lounging in armchairs. Sometimes there is just a tramp, with a Browning on his belt, a German cleaver hangs from one side and another with a dagger.
Appeals in a purely Russian spirit: “Forward, family, do not consider corpses!”.
In Odessa, another fifteen people are being shot and a list is being published. From Odessa sent “two trains with gifts to the defenders of Petersburg,” that is, with food, and Odessa itself is starving.
Here the Odessa notes of the author break off. Continued it digs into the ground so well that before leaving Odessa, at the end of January 1920, it can not find them.