Chapter Twelve - The Revolution
In February 1917, rumors were beginning to spread that something was going to happen.
The strikes started. Protopopov started to visit the Empress frequently to bring her reports on the general situation. One day after his audience with the Empress, he came into my guard room and told me:
"They said that a revolutionary movement had begun, but we calmed it down."
Protopov's visits became even more frequent. After another audience with the Empress, he came into my guard room again and told me that the Empress had ordered me to take all of his, the Minister of the Interior's, secret telephone calls about the progress of the unrest and for me to report them to the Empress.
The calls were made to me both by Protopopov and his secretary. At first they were reassuring.
"Inform Her Majesty that all did not go well in the Duma of the Empire, alot of noise. They do not speak well of the "old man" (Sturmer).
I annouced this to Her Majesty.
"That does not mean anything" the Empress said, "that they speak ill of him."
A following telephone call:
"Inform Her Majesty that there is no danger."
The Empress's response: "But what danger can there be? There will not be any."
Such assurance never left the Empress, right up until the final moments.
Meanwhile, events were occurring rapidly, but only vague rumors actually reached the Palace.
The next day there was serious trouble. Protopopov telephoned the Palace again:
"A storm rages in Petrograd. The Cossacks are going over, little by little, to the side of the revolutionaries. Tomorrow all will be decided. I hope that our troops will win. I have given the order that the police occupy positions in the attics and rooftops."
I took this report to the Empress.
"All is not going well in Petrograd, Your Majesty; the Cossacks are marching against the government."
"That could never...this is impossible. There must be some mistake!"
"Your Majesty, it was the Minister of the Interior himself who made the report."
"I will never believe it. The Cossacks would never turn against us."
Another call from Protopopov:
"Inform the Empress that we will stand firm."
The Empress replied: "Naturally. It will all pass soon."
The next day, the Minister's secretary called me on the telephone.
"Would you inform Her Majesty that prisoners are being freed from some of the prisons. The Litovski fortress is on fire. Also, several commissions are on fire."
I conveyed this information to Her Majesty.
"There is nothing to be done, we just have to see what happens" the Empress responded, very much saddened to hear the news. That was the last telephone call. The Minister's secretary then came himself and confimred that the Police commissions, the prisons and the Palace of Justice had all been set on fire and continued to burn. That was our last contact with Petrograd.
Life came to a halt. The Emperor's children were all sick with the measles. The Emperor was gone. We had no news of him at all.
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