Maxim Gorky: With arming of vast hordes of people, what can I get out of the war?
From The Specter (1938)
Translated by Alexander Bakshy
It was quite clear to Samghin that the entire country was bursting with patriotic sentiment – exactly opposite to his observation at the commencement of the Japanese War. This time the liberal bourgeoisie had unanimously adopted the cry: “Unity of Czar and People!” The Duma solemnly erased all differences with the government. Students held patriotic demonstrations. Hundreds of telegrams flew from the provinces to the Czar, speaking of eagerness to fight, of confidence in victory. Newspapers reported “Teutonic atrocities.” Prose and verse writers threatened the Germans with destruction. Everywhere was praise of the Don Cossack Kozma Kryuchkov, who, in order to imbue civilians with military ardor, hacked with a saber and pierced with a lance eleven German cavalrymen.
…He was preoccupied with one question: What prospects, what paths, did the war open up for him? It had placed under arms such vast hordes of people that, of course, it could not last long – there would not be enough supplies for prolonged fighting. The Allies, of course, would defeat the Austrians and the Germans. Russia would obtain an outlet into the Mediterranean and secure a firm foothold in the Balkans. That was all very well, but what would be his personal gain? With all the determination of which he was capable, he decided he must make himself a position of prominence – as he should have done long ago.
“It is my duty to do that – out of sheer respect for my experience of life. It has a value which I have no right to conceal from the war, from the people.”