Arthur Ransome
Russia in 1919

The Journey Out

March 15th.


There is nothing to record about the last few days of my visit, fully occupied as they were with the collection and packing of printed material and preparations for departure. I left with the two Americans, Messrs. Bullitt and Steffens, who had come to Moscow some days previously, and travelled up in the train with Bill Shatov, the Commandant of Petrograd, who is not a Bolshevik but a fervent admirer of Prince Kropotkin, for the distribution of whose works in Russia he has probably done as much as any man. Shatov was an emigre in New York, returned to Russia, brought law and order into the chaos of the Petrograd-Moscow railway, never lost a chance of doing a good turn to an American, and with his level-headedness and practical sense became one of the hardest worked servants of the Soviet, although, as he said, the moment people stopped attacking them he would be the first to pull down the Bolsheviks. He went into the occupied provinces during the German evacuation of them, to buy arms and ammunition from the German soldiers. Prices, he said, ran low. You could buy rifles for a mark each, field guns for 150 marks, and a field wireless station for 500. He had then been made Commandant of Petrograd, although there had been some talk of setting him to reorganize transport. Asked how long he thought the Soviet Government could hold out, he replied, "We can afford to starve another year for the sake of the Revolution."


[The End]