In 1918-1920 Bunin recorded in the form of diary notes his immediate observations and impressions of the events in Russia at that time. Here are some fragments:
January 1 (old style). This damned year is over. But what’s next? Maybe something even more terrible. Even probably so…
February 5th. Since February 1, they ordered us to be a new style. So in their eighteenth already…
February 6. In the newspapers, the Germans started attacking us. Everyone says:
“Oh, if only!”. On Petrovka, the monks peck the ice. Passers-by triumph, gloat: “Aha! They drove out! Now, brother, make!”
Then we omit the dates. A young officer entered the tramcar and, blushing, said that he “can not, unfortunately, pay for the ticket.” Derman, a critic, came running from Simferopol. There, he says, “indescribable horror,” soldiers and workers “walk right
up to their knees in the blood.” Some old man-colonel was roasted alive in a steam locomotive. “It is not time yet to understand the Russian revolution impartially, objectively…” This you hear now every minute. But this impartiality will never be the same. And most importantly: our “bias” will in fact be very, very dear to the future historian. Is the “passion” of the “revolutionary people” only important? And we, then what, are not people, or what? In a tram of hell, clouds of soldiers with bags – fleeing Moscow, fearing that they will be sent to defend Petersburg from the Germans. I met a soldier boy, cooked, skinny, scabby and drunk. He poked my face in the chest and, reclining backwards, spat at me and said: “Despot, you son of a bitch!” On the walls of the houses, some posters have been posted by someone who have been corroding Trotsky and Lenin in connection with the Germans, that they were bribed by the Germans. I ask Klystov: “Well, how many of these scoundrels have received?” “Do not worry,” he answered with a
muddled grin, “decently…” Talking with polishers:
– Well, what do you say, gentlemen, pretty?
– Yes what can you say. Everything is bad.
– And what do you think will happen next?
“God knows,” said the curly one. “We are a dark people… What do we know?” That will be: they let criminals from prison, they control us, and they should not be let out, but we had to shoot them out of a rotten gun for a long time. The king was seated, but with him there was no such thing. And now these Bolsheviks will not sopresh. The people are weakened… There are only a hundred thousand of them, and there are as many as millions of us, and we can not do anything. Now let’s open the kazenku, let us be free, we would take them from the apartments of all the clones. “The
conversation, accidentally overheard by phone:
” I have fifteen officers and Kaledin’s aide-de-camp. “What?”
Again some kind of manifestation, banners, posters, music – and who in the woods, who are on firewood, into 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 a brand on the faces of their convicts: “Saue giget.” You do not need to put anything on these faces, and you can see everything without any stigma. Read the article of Lenin. An insignificant and fraudulent one is an international, then a “Russian national upsurge.” “Congress of Soviets.” Speech of Lenin. Oh, what an animal! I read about the corpses standing on the seabed, – dead, drowned officers. And here is the “Musical snuffbox”. The whole Lubyanka Square glitters in the sun. Liquid mud splashes from under the wheels. And Asia, Asia – soldiers, boys, bargaining gingerbread, halva, poppy tiles, cigarettes… The soldiers and workers, now and then rumbling on trucks, muzzles triumphant. In the kitchen, P. has a soldier, a fat-faced man… He says that, of course, socialism is impossible now, but that the bourgeoisie still have to be cut.
on April 12 (old style). It’s almost three weeks since our perdition. Dead, empty port, dead, crap town-Letter from Moscow… from August 10th came only today. However, the Russian post office was over for a long time, in the summer of 17: ever since, for the first time, in the European way, a “minister of Posts and Telegraphs…” appeared. At the same time, the “Minister of Labor” appeared for the first time – and then all of Russia stopped working. Yes, and Satan Cain’s malice, bloodthirstiness and the most savage arbitrariness, he breathed on Russia in the days when brotherhood, equality and freedom were proclaimed. Then immediately came a frenzy, acute insanity. Everyone yelled at each other for the slightest contradiction: “I’ll arrest you, you son of a bitch!”.
Often I recall that indignation with which my supposedly entirely black images of the Russian people met. …And who? Those that are nurtured are remembered by the very literature that literally shamed literally all the classes for a hundred years, that is, the “priest”, the “philistine”, the philistine, the bureaucrat, the policeman, the landowner, the prosperous peasant – in short, everyone and everyone, then the “people” – the horseless, of course – and the tramps.
Now all the houses are dark, in the darkness the whole city, except for those places where these robber dens are – there are chandeliers burning, balalaikas are burning, walls are seen hung with black banners, on which white skulls with inscriptions: “Death, death to the bourgeois!”
He says, shouts, stuttering, with saliva in his mouth, his eyes through the curve-hanging pince-nez seem especially furious. The necktie climbed high on the back to the dirty paper collar, the waistcoat was completely packed, on the shoulders of the kurguz jacket – dandruff, sebaceous liquid hair disheveled… And they assure me that this viper 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, guises, “shakiness”, as they used to say in the old days. The people himself said to himself: “from us, as from a tree, – and a club, and an icon,” depending on the circumstances, on who the tree is cultivating: Sergius of Radonezh or Emelka Pugachev.
“From victory to victory, the new successes of the valiant Red Army… The shooting of 26 Black Hundreds in Odessa…”
I heard that we will have this wild robbery, which is already going on in Kiev – “collecting” clothes and shoes… But it’s scary and in the afternoon. The whole huge city does not live, it sits at home, goes out on the street a little. The city feels conquered as if by some special people, which seems much more terrible than, I think, seemed to our ancestors Pechenegs. And the conqueror staggers, trades with trays, spits seeds, “covers mat.” According to Deribasovskaya or moving a huge crowd, accompanying for fun the coffin of some rogue, issued necessarily for the “fallen fighter” (lies in a red coffin…), or black jackets playing on the harmonies, dancing and screaming sailors: “Eh, apple, where kotishsya! “
In general, as soon as the city becomes “red”, immediately the crowd, filling the streets, changes dramatically. A certain selection of faces is being made… On these faces, first of all, there is no ordinary, simplicity. All of them are almost completely repulsive, frightening evil dullness, some kind of gloomy-holovy challenge to all and all.
I saw the Field of Mars on which I had just been made, like some traditional sacrifice of the revolution, a comedy of a funeral allegedly fallen for the freedom of heroes. That the need, that it was, in fact, mockery of the dead, that they were deprived of an honest Christian burial, were boarded up for some reason red and unnaturally buried in the heart of the city alive.
From “Izvestia” (remarkable Russian language): “The peasants say, give us a commune, just to save us from the Cadets…”
Signature under the poster: “Do not crouch, Denikin, on someone else’s land!”
By the way, about the Odessa emergency. There is now a new manner to shoot – over a cupboard cup.
“Warning” in the newspapers: “In connection with the complete depletion of fuel, electricity will soon not be.” So, in one month everything was processed: no factories, no railways, no trams, no water, no bread, no clothes – nothing!
Yesterday late at night, along with the “commissar” of our house, came to measure the length, width and height of all our rooms “for sealing by the proletariat.”
Why the commissar, why the tribunal, and not just the court? All because only under the protection of such sacred-revolutionary words one can so boldly walk knee-deep in the blood…
In the Red Army, the main thing is debauchery. 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 some kind of team dud. The sentries are sitting at the entrances of requisitioned houses in armchairs in the most broken postures. 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, relatives, do not consider the corpses!” *
In Odessa, shot 15 more people (published list), from Odessa sent “two trains with gifts to the defenders of Petersburg,” that is, with food (and Odessa itself is starving to death )
RS My Odessa notes are broken here, the leaves following these, I buried so well in one place in the ground that before I left Odessa, at the end of January 1920, I could not find them.