Telegram. Stavka. 1 March, 1915.
Thank you sincerely for letter and telegram. I am terribly sorry about poor Strouve. The weather here is very mild; there is practically no snow. The news from everywhere is good. George is here and very busy. I kiss you and the children fondly.
NOTES: STROUVE: Captain S. G. Strouve, on the Staff of the Life-Guard Cavalry, killed in action On the 27th February, 1915. He had been A.D.C. to the Tsar. GEORGE: the Grand Duke George Mikhailovitch.
Telegram. Stavka. 2 March, 1915
Warmest thanks for dear letter and news. It is warm, but dull. I am very busy and have to speak a great deal. Find time for the usual long walks after lunch. I shall write. Embrace everyone closely.
Stavka. 2 March, 1915
MY TENDERLY BELOVED,
I thank you from my heart for your two sweet letters. Every time that I see the envelope with your firm writing, my heart leaps several times, and I shut myself up and read, or more correctly absorb the letter.
Of course the girls can bathe in my swimming-bath; I am glad that the Little One enjoys it so much; I asked the rogue to write to me about all this!
I am here for the seventh time - only think of it 1 At the front everything is quite satisfactory. N. is in a good humour and as usual demands rifles and ammunition. The question of supplying our railways and factories with coal has assumed an alarming character, and I have asked Roukhlov to take it all into his hands. Only imagine, if the manufacture of military supplies were to cease I And this because of a lack of coal, or rather owing to an insufficient output of it. in our mines in the South I I am convinced that energetic measures will pull us out of these difficulties.
George looks quite well and very sunburnt; he has told me many interesting things, which he will presently pass on to you. Petiusha is here, quite recovered now. I have learnt from him that Roman had typhoid fever, but is getting better. To-day a charming old man, Pau, a French general, came from Galicia-he is delighted with his journey and with having been under Austrian fire. Sazonov arrived as well this morning, so that they all lunched with me. To-morrow Paléologue is due to arrive, who is supposed to bring the official reply of France concerning Constantinople, and also her wishes with regard to the Turkish booty.
In the course of the day we had a lengthy conversation - N., Sazonov, Yanoushkevitch and I - which ended to our mutual satisfaction. So many questions have accumulated that it is impossible to solve them in one day. My plans are not yet quite clear. N. would not hear of my going to Lomja to start with. He says that German aeroplanes are flying there above our troops, searching for our reserves; that all the roads are blocked with transport and wagons; and that, for these reasons, he does not advise General Pau to travel in that direction. I shall see what I shall do. I have sent Djounkovsky to find out what is happening there, and, as he is a practical man, he will be able to judge whether this journey is possible.
To-day the news from everywhere is quite good. Little Osovetz is holding out satisfactorily against the bombardment; all that is damaged in the day-time is repaired at night; the spirit of the garrison is magnificent and they are in sufficient strength. I have sent them my thanks. This time the Germans are further away from their objective than they were the first time in September.
Yesterday N. brought me Ivanov's report from Broussilov and Khan-Nakhichevansky about the splendid behaviour of Misha's division in the February fighting, when they were attacked in the Carpathians by two Austrian divisions. The Caucasians not only repelled the enemy, but actually attacked him, and were the first to enter Stanislavov, while Misha was the whole time in the line of fire.
Everybody is asking me to give him the Cross of St. George, which I shall do, N. is sending one of his adjutants this evening with my letter and order to Misha; I am very glad for his sake, as I think that this time he has really earned this military distinction, and it will show him that he is, after all, treated exactly as all the others, and that by doing his duty well he also gets a reward.
The little Admiral is behaving very well and often makes us laugh during our evening games of dominoes by his witty remarks about Tatishchev and Svechin, who bore him with their interminable talks. It is true that the latter likes to tell dull anecdotes, interspersed with French sentences, when we are having lunch or tea, and he is beginning to try the patience of us all. The Admiral has become great friends with Feodorov, and they discuss nothing but points of strategy.
Well, I have talked enough nonsense, and you must forgive me, my darling Wify. God bless you and the children! I kiss you all tenderly.
Always your old devoted hubby
NOTES: The military situation had greatly improved, and the Austrian centre had been broken by a counter-offensive near Smolnik in the Carpathians.
ROUKHLOV: S. V. Roukhlov, Secretary of State, Member of the Council of State, and Minister of Ways and Communications from 1909 to October 1915. PAU: General Pau had commanded the army in Alsace at the beginning of the war. and had taken Mulhause. He came to Petrograd via Salonika, and brought with him a number of decorations for the Russian army. He visited Russia twice during the war. SAZONOV: S. D. Sazonov, Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1910 to July 1915. A capable and honest statesman, perhaps lacking in subtlety, but not in sincerity or intelligence. His book, "Fateful Years," has recently been published in England. His enmity to Rasputin and the sinister and "occult" influences of the Court led to his dismissal-and thus deprived Russia of the services of one of her few reliable Ministers. PALEOLOGUE : Maurice Paléologue, the French Ambassador, whose delightful book, "La Russie des Tsars," is the best contemporary work on the social and political life of. Russia during the war. DJOUNKOVSKY: General V. F. Djounkovsky, Governor of Moscow. He was an A.D.C. to the Tsar, and Assistant-Minister of Internal Affairs. He was accused by the Tsaritsa of having fostered the "seditious popularity" of the Grand Duke Nicholas (Paléologue, Vol. II, P. 70), and he had the courage to speak to the Tsar concerning certain scandals in which Rasputin was involved. As a result of this, he was dismissed from his office in September 1915, and was given the command of the 8th Siberian Rifle Brigade. BROUSSILOV: General A. A. Broussilov, then commanding the 8th Army, was the most vigorous. and the most fortunate, of the Russian generals. In 1916 he succeeded Ivanov as Commander-in-Chief of the South-west Front, and conducted a brilliant offensive in the Carpathians. He was sixty-one at the outbreak of war, and his career up to that time had not been in any way distinguished. He became Commander-in-Chief under the Provisional Government in 1917, but resigned. KHAN-NAKHICHEVANSKY: a cavalry general, commanding the 2nd Caucasian Division.
"The little Admiral" - Admiral C. D. Nilov, formerly the commander of the Imperial yacht "Standart," and then FlagCaptain to the Tsar, who was particularly fond of him. TATISHCHEV: General Count I. L. Tatishchev, one of the Tsar's most loyal friends. He accompanied his sovereign to the Ourals in 1917. and was murdered by the Bolsheviks. SVECHIN: Colonel V. V. Svechin the Preobrajensky Regiment of Life-Guards. A.D.C. to the Tsar.
It is not clear why the Tsar should have been so anxious to visit Lomja, a small town in northern Poland, about eighty miles north- West of Warsaw, and at that time close to the front line.
Telegram. Stavka. 3 March, 1915.
Warmest thanks for charming letters from you and the children. I was busy all the evening with conversations, reading and writing. Foul, wet, windy weather. Goo& news from everywhere. I kiss you all fondly.
Telegram. Stavka. 4 March, 1915.
I have finished my notepaper. Could you not send me my paper - in the blue box on the shelf opposite the first window? I have very stupidly forgotten it. All is well. The weather is nasty, a snowstorm. I kiss you tenderly.
Telegram. Stavka. 4 March, 1915.
Warm thanks for letter and two telegrams. I am in despair at your being worn out. I am very grieved about your poor wounded officer; I quite understand you...
Stavka. 5 March, 1915.
MY BELOVED LITTLE BIRD, SUNNY,
My warmest thanks for your long, precious letter. How well do I understand your sorrow for the sad death of the poor fellow, without a single relative near! Truly, it is better to be killed outright, like Strouve, as death in battle comes in the presence of the whole division or regiment is entered in history.
To-day the weather is good, but it is frosty with a lot snow. The sun is shining beautifully through the trees which are in front of my window. We have only just come back from our after-dinner walk. The roads among the fields are very slippery, and my gentlemen sometimes fall down. Some days ago Sazonov fell, while crossing from the train to his carriage, and bruised his nose and leg. Yesterday Drenteln slipped in the same place and tore the tendon of his ankle; he had to lie down, and Feodorov is attending him. To-day, during our walk, Grabbe fell, but lucidly without hurting himself. Towards the end he fell through the ice into a ditch, but also without taking harm.
From all this you can see that we spend our time quietly and without notable events. This morning I spent an hour or an hour and a half with N. and two Staff officers.
I see George often - he has improved remarkably; everybody who has seen him since his return from the Caucasus notices it. After having made inquiries as to how the plastouni (my special weakness) have conducted themselves, I have appointed myself Chief of the 6th Koubansky plastouni battalion, and him - George - Chief of the 4th Koubansky plastouni battalion, because he was with them in their trenches - that is extraordinary, is it not? Tell Olga about it.
And these splendid men are leaving Batoum in a few days for Sevastopol, to get ready for the final expedition.
Now I must finish, my love. God bless you and the dear children I I kiss you tenderly and lovingly and remain, my darling,
Unchangeably your old hubby
NOTES: The "sad death" of one of the patients in the Tsaritsa's military hospital at Tsarskoe Selo. Plastouni: The plastouni battalions were Kouban Cossack units, consisting of picked marksmen. They were originally attached to the various infantry units of the Black Sea forces, but in 1870 they were formed into independent battalions six battalions in peace time and sixteen in war. The "final expedition" was to have been to Constantinople - the fulfilment of the long cherished hopes of Russian imperialism.
Telegram. Stavka. 6 March, 1915
Hearty thanks for dear letter with the note about your 21st Regiment. Thank her and give her my greetings. The weather is lovely and frosty. I hope your heart is better. You must take care of yourself. I embrace and kiss you tenderly.
Telegram. Stavka. 7 March, 1915.
Warmest thanks for dear No. 283. About the New Testaments - yes. I shall tell you about the plastouni. The gentlemen thank you all. It is warm to-day, thawing...
NOTES: - "About the New Testaments." The Tsaritsa wished to send 10,000 New Testaments to the prisoners of war in Germany, and was anxious to know whether these might be sent in her name, and with an inscription to that effect. She asked him to telegraph his reply.
Stavka. 7 March, 1915.
MY BELOVED SUNNY,
I thank you countless times for your sweet letter No. 282, and am angry with myself for not writing to you every day, as I intended. The courier leaves at 6.30, and after 5 o'clock I am always in a hurry with the papers, and when I am busy with the usual morning report there is hardly time enough left to write letters before lunch. We are all amazed here at the time going so quickly. The prolongation of my stay here has proved useful, as we had to discuss a number of serious and pressing questions; if I had not been here it would have taken much more time and an exchange of telegrams.
It seems to me you think that N. is holding me back on purpose, with the idea of not letting me move about and see the troops. In reality that is not quite correct.
About a fortnight ago, when he wrote to me advising me to come here, he said that I could easily visit three army corps, because they were grouped together in the rear.
Since then much has changed, and they have all been sent to the front line; that is true - I receive proof of it every morning during the Reports. Even General Pau was not allowed to go to Lomja (my little place). He only went through Warsaw to Bzoura and Ravka, where at the present moment all is quiet. Yesterday I drove Out 24 versts in a car and walked in a charming wood and in the camp of the 4th Army Corps-the place is called the Scobelevsky Camp. On the huts occupied by the officers their surnames are inscribed; they are surrounded by little gardens, with benches, gymnastic apparatus, and all sorts of amusements for the children. I thought with sadness of those who will never again return here.
It was terribly cold driving in an open car, but we were warmly clothed. To-day it is thawing. Chemodourov bought these cards for me at the post office. Give A. my greetings and tell her that I liked the verses which she copied for me.
I hope that you are feeling better now, my love, my sweet Wify. God bless you and the children! I am always with you in prayer and thought.
Ever your loving
NOTES: CHEMODOUROV: T. I. Chemodourov, the Tsar's valet. He accompanied the Imperial Family to the Ourals in 1917, fell ill at Ekaterinburg, was transferred to the prison infirmary and forgotten, and thus escaped with his life.
Telegram. Stavka. 8 March. 1915.
Warmest thanks for letter, for the delightfully scented lilies, and two telegrams. I am very glad about Irina. The news is good from everywhere. I am leaving on Tuesday, shall be home on Wednesday morning. I kiss you fondly. Give her my kind regards.
NOTES: IRINA: the daughter of the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovitch and wife of Prince Yussoupov. She had given birth to a daughter.
Telegram. Stavka. 9 March, 1915.
Przemysl is taken. Praise be to God!
NOTES: The capture of Przemysl was an event of supreme military importance. It was the chief fortified town of Galicia. and its fall had a stimulating effect, not only on the moral of the Russian armies, but also on that of the Allies. No fewer than 126,OOO prisoners were taken, and 700 heavy guns.
Stavka. 9 March. 1915.
MY BELOVED SUNNY,
How am I to thank you for your two charming letters and for the lilies? I press them to my face and kiss often the places which I think were touched by your dear lips. They stand on my table day and night; when the gentlemen pass my doors I give them the flowers to smell. God grant that I may return by the 11th - probably at 10 o'clock in the morning. What joy to be again in one's own nestsnugly and closely (in every sense) together I just at this very minute, 11.30, Nicolasha came running into my carriage, out of breath and with tears in his eyes, and told me of the fall of Przemysl. Thanks be to God I For two days we have been waiting for this news with hope and anxiety. The fall of this fortress has an enormous moral and military significance. After several months of despondency, this news strikes as an unexpected ray of sunshine. and exactly on the first day of spring!
I began this letter in a calm mood, but now everything has been turned upside down in my head, so you must excuse the second part of this letter. Oh, my dear, I am so profoundly happy at this good news, and so grateful to God for His mercy! I have ordered a thanksgiving Te Deum to be sung at 2 o'clock in the local church, where I was present last year at the thanksgiving molebni [services]! Yesterday I drove in a motor car to the same charming wood near the Scobolevsky Camp, and had a good walk on the other side of the big road - it was warm and thawing hard.
As Drenteln has hurt his ankle, Grabbe is taking his place at our games of dominoes; he is so amusing with the little Admiral that they make me and N. P. roll with laughter. I am thinking of sending Grabbe to the army in Przemysl with heaps of orders and thanks for the officers and men.
I have just returned from church, which was packed with officers and my splendid Cossacks. What beaming faces! Shavelsky spoke a few moving words; everyone was in a sort of paschal mood!
Well, good-bye, my treasure, my Sunny! May God bless you and the dear children! I am tremendously happy to return home again.
Always your old hubby,
Stavka. 10 March, 1915.
I forgot to thank you for your dear letter; was very excited over the happy news. A colossal number of prisoners was taken there. Lovely sunny weather. Am leaving at 3 o'clock. I kiss you warmly.