We arrived at Ekaterinburg at the same time as General Knox arrived from Chilliyabinsk. His first words were congratulations on my C.B., news of which had just arrived. I visited Consul Preston, and read the evidence he and his French colleague had collected relative to Bolshevik outrages on the workmen of the district. It was too sad to think about. This was the place where the Tsar and his family were imprisoned and murdered. Of them it could be fairly alleged that they were responsible for the crimes of the old regime; but what crimes have the poor workmen and peasants committed that the most fiendish cruelty should be reserved for them? I give it up! Perhaps there is some reason or justification; all I can say is I have not heard it, neither can I imagine what it can be.
I held a meeting of railway workmen and officials, and was surprised at the attention and earnestness of the audience. They hungrily devoured every scrap of information as to our English trade union organisation and work, and requested that a further meeting should be held next day in a great carriage works in the centre of the town. This proved to be one of the most remarkable gatherings I have ever attended. A fine platform had been erected at one end of the main workshop. A sea of faces under huge multi-coloured papahas spread over the floor, while every carriage was covered with human ants; even the beams of the building carried its human freight. Clearly it seemed to me that the resurrection of Russia had begun; the destruction of Russia began from the head, its re-birth is from the ground.
IN EUROPEAN RUSSIA
Nevanisk is situated just over the European boundary of the Urals. Before the Bolshevik came it was a great iron centre, one firm alone employing three thousand workmen. When I arrived there the various works were practically derelict and its vast collection of machinery idle. The streets were deserted, and it was estimated that half of its inhabitants had been destroyed. It was, and now it is not. The few remaining inhabitants were valiantly pulling themselves together, and if order and some sort of law could be established, they were confident that they could rebuild their life again. We talked to them and encouraged them to continue their struggle against the blight that had defiled their homes and their country. Their hopes seemed to revive from our assurance of English working-class sympathy. I am pleased they did not know that we had some people mad enough to wish to inflict similar wounds upon our own country.
A pound of sugar cost thirty-five roubles, a pair of 3s. 11d. goloshes two hundred and fifty roubles, one pound of bread seven roubles. These were the things we wished to buy, and so made the discovery of their price; we bought bread only, as the thing we could not do without. Typhus was raging in almost every house. General Knox was inoculated, but I decided to run the risk. Doctors had largely disappeared, owing to the hatred of everybody with a bourgeois education.