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Theodore E[manuel] Schmauk.

The year of our Lord, 1904; a survey of the world online

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the admitted bonded indebtedness was over three billions of
dollars, and on top of this, the government had guaranteed
interest, etc., on railroad securities to the extent of nearly
seven hundred millions of dollars; and had guaranteed the
mortgage bonds of land credit institutions to the extent of
three hundred and thirty-five millions of dollars, so that in all,
the government was responsible for four billion and a quar-
ter of dollars. During the last two years there have been im-
mense defaults to the land bank companies, and these have
been unable to meet their obligations. It is true that vast
amounts of land, belonging to the nobility, have been fore-
closed during the last few years, but these lands could not be
sold for more than a mere fraction of the face of the mort-
gages.

It may not be generally known that the external debt of
Russia is still held abroad, while the internal debt was placed
in Russia. About three hundred millions went originally to
the nobility as indemnity for amounts taken at the liberation
of the serfs. During the last ten years, hundreds of millions
of dollars of foreign capital has been invested in Russian in-
dustries, and besides this, much foreign banking capital has
been attracted into the country. The fact is that Russia cannot
have a fixed interest charge of much less than one hundred and
thirty-five millions of dollars per year. The government has
continued to offer large amounts of new loans abroad, and
while M. Witte would not admit that he was selling bonds to
pay his interest, he did acknowledge that he was obliged to
do so to prevent gold exports, which is much the same, thing.

Other internal conditions in Russia are equally gloomy.
Imperial lands may be counted as an offset to the existing
debt, governor ownership has been making the people poorer,
and the taxation has been vastly increasing as a result of M.
Witte's policy of expansion. M. de Witte has himself said,
"The population is weighed down by direct and indirect tax-
ation to the uttermost that can be borne." The money lender
absorbs nearly all the profits of agriculture. The already de-
scribed agricultural conditions are growing worse. Russian
railway stock is heavily overcapitalized, the allowances for



22

depreciation are not sufficient ; and, worst of all, some au-
thorities maintain that about three-fourths of the cost of rail-
wa)rs has been caused by plundering the. government. It is
said, loosely speaking, that nine-tenths of the people are ex-
isting for the profit of the other tenth. No contract is let in
Russia, which does not allow a liberal margin for a "rake-off,"
and, in the case of railroads, this means that they have been
paid for two and a half times over, and that the standard
value is fifty per cent, higher than the necessary cost. And
these railroads are more and more unprofitable. In 1896 the
profits of the state railroads were over five millions of dollars.
In 1899 they had declined to a little more than half a million.
In 1900 they were transformed into a loss of one million three
hundred thousand dollars. In 1902 this loss increased to
twenty-two and a half million dollars.

It is stated, on what authority we do not know, that fully
seventy-five per cent, of the. Red Cross fund, which was sub-
scribed at home and abroad, has been stolen, and that the
magnificent hospital train which the Czarina sent to the East,
was "looted" between St. Petersburg and Moscow. It is said
that admirals, buying coal in foreign ports, procure re-
ceipts for much larger sums than they have paid, pocketing
the difference and dividing it with their under officers. De-
partment officers have been multiplied until the statement is
made seriously that there are as many clerks on the pay roll
of the office issuing licenses for dogs, as there are dogs in
St. Petersburg.

Of all plunderers, the grand dukes, consisting of three
uncles and a brother-in-law of the Czar, are said to be the
worst. The three of them are trustees of a fund to erect a
memorial church to Alexander the Second. The money has
been subscribed several times over by the nation, and work
was begun twenty-two years ago. Nobody expects that it
will be completed in this generation, and yet the embezzling
trustees are sons of the murdered Czar.

When the progressive M. Witte was appointed minister
of finance in opposition to the bureaucracy, he undertook to
put the public works on a sound commercial basis. In trying



23

to make, the tran-Siberian railway a commercial road, he an-
tagonized Alexieff, who regarded it partly as a means for
making war on China and Japan and partly as an opportunity
for private speculation. The result was that M. Witte was
obliged to retire. It was no other than the hatred Plehve
who brought on Witte's downfall. Although the reforms
and industrial policy had made Witte many enemies, he was
successful, until the new minister of the interior, Plehve, re-
ceived his appointment. From that time on there was open
warfare between the two men. Plehve put an end to Witte's
local agricultural commission, and took from him the admin-
istration of the commercial marine.

Before long factory inspectors were made subordinate to
Plehve's police, department. A little later Witte was driven
from his office, and the empire was dragged into a foreign
war.

The party headed by Plehve, Pobiedonostzeff, Alexiefif

and Kuropatkin felt that war would win glory abroad and

allay disaffection at home. It has done neither, and has left

the reactionary party in disgrace. Russia has been compared

to the

. . . weary Titan, with deaf
Ears, and labor- dimmed eyes,

StaggeriDg on to her goal,
Bearing on shoulders immense,
Atlantean, the load
Well nigh not to he borne,
Of the too vast orb of her fate.

The leaders of the reactionary faction have been Alexieff,
Plehve. and Pobiedonostzeff, chief procurator of the Holy
Synod, and chief administrator of the secret and inquisitorial
methods by which anything like a free expression of public
opinion, has been made impossible in Russia. It has been
said that the bureaucracy, with its despotism, has itself felt the
coming of a crisis, and that "after us the deluge," is the feel-
ing of the Russian nobility. The finances, famines and re-
pressive measures taken to stamp out revolution, have long
been felt to be inviting it.

Retribution came to Russia swift and awful. Bobrikoff,



24

Governor of Finland, was shot on June 15; Andreieff, deputy
governor of Transcaucasia, was assassinated on July 17th;
and eleven days later, the bomb struck the Czar's most power-
ful minister, at the head of the bureau of the interior, the
hated minister of police, Konstantinovitch Von Plehve. Von
Plehve has been termed the evil genius of his country. It
was he who ordered the horrible massacre and plunder at
Kishieneflf, and he carried out the Russian policy in Finland.
With Pobiedonostzeff and Alexieff. he was at the head of all
Russian recent acts of despotism and of the reign of terror in
the land. With his death, the policy of reaction lost its chief
bulwark.

It is worth while to spend some time to take a view of
this ''blood-hound of the Czar," this most hated man in all the
Russias. Of Polish extraction, he combined with German
thoroughness, and Muscovite ferocity, a truly Oriental as-
tuteness and cunning. He was born in 1848 and sought to re-
trieve his family's name as soon as he was able to serve the
state. A Polish noble gave him the means of obtaining an
education, and then he went to Moscow and began the study
of law. He soon attracted the attention of state officials be-
cause of the. fierceness with which he fought for his clients.
He was chosen as the procurator of Vladimir, and the vigor
with which he ran down criminals caused him to be spoken of
at the Russian capital. Later he was transferred to Warsaw,
and here he prosecuted the very family that had given him
the means for his education. It was his special duty to ferret
out cases of treason, and this, bringing him to the attention
of the Czar, Alexander II, lifted him to St. Petersburg and
caused him to be made procurator of the courts at the Rus-
sian capital. The Czar made it the special duty of Plehve to
stamp out Nihilism, and the procurator searched incessantly
for those whom he believed to be guilty of treason. When
the attempt was made to blow up the. Winter Palace, he had
many persons arrested, and some even tortured. When, on
March 13, 1881, the Czar was assassinated, Plehve took
charge of the prosecution in person and asked that he him-
self be made director of the police department. From that



25

lime on his power increased until he became the greatest sub-
ject of the Czar. When he learned that his own life was
threatened, he redoubled his efforts to stamp out Liberalism
and inaugurated a reign of terror. Many educated and pros-
perous citizens were sent to Siberia or to the prisons. From
1881 to 1884, as the chief of state, police, he dictated the policy
of the empire. He banished German colonists in Russia, and
the Jews. In 1884 he was made Minister of the Interior. One
of his first posts under Nicholas II was secretary of State for
Finland, and he went about the task of russianizing it so
cruelly that in the early part of 1903 the Czar recalled him
and put him in charge of affairs at home. It was the massacre
of Kishieneff that brought him to the attention of the whole
world. He is believed to have had a full knowledge of the
affair, and, in September, 1903, issued a secret circular to the
provincial authorities practically putting a ban on all Jewish
activities. His last great public work was the drafting of the
scheme for peasant reform which was ordered by the Em-
peror. For Plehve was obedient to the Czar. Whereas M.
Witte was often blunt and uncompromising and hurt the
Czar's feelings, Plehve studied his master's peculiarities, and,
by subserviency and flattery, became the first Minister in the
Empire. He seems to have had no policy of his own, but
sounded the Czar as to the latter's feelings, and then shaped
the national policy in accordance with them. He is said to
have instilled distrust into the nature of Nicholas and to have
stimulated his master's growing love of absolutism (with him-
self as the only prop.) Love of power seems to have been the
determining factor in his whole career. In the later part
of his life he saw in all persons conspirators against himself,
and the habit of hunting down these conspirators became his
second nature. He knew that he was carrying his life in his
hands, but felt sure that it was well protected. He made his
great mistake in putting his trust in spies and police and ar-
moured carriages, and in dismissing Nihilists with contempt.
"They do not count," he said. "We know every one of them,
and everything that they are doing."

No wonder that, when Plehve fell at the hand of a nihilist,



26

it was a grave question with the Czar as to who should be-
come his successor, and be elevated to the Ministry of the In-
terior. There was General von Wahl, who puts an end to
strikes by flogging the bare-backed strikers in droves. There
was General Kleigels, who checks Western ideas in the minds
of University students with cossack whips. And there was
Obolensky, governor general of Finland, who is said to re-
gard the practice of flogging women as the best antidote to
revolutionary poison. It is stated that eight Russian states-
men were offered the Ministry of the Interior, one after the.
other, and all declined.

The surprise of the whole world was exceedingly great,
therefore, when prince Svialopolk-Mirsky was appointed to the
position. A broad liberal, he is the very opposite of his prede-
cessor. While he opposes parliamentary systems, he believes
in giving the local centres of government fuller power to deal
with their affairs. He does not believe in using force with
students. "The young people, must be shown the truth, and
also the absurdity of their longings." He favors rural
schools, he favors religious liberty "as much as possible."
To him is ascribed a highly developed sense of justice and it
is thought that he may be relied on to strive to administer his
department with moderation and prudence. He started out
early in October in his great work, attempting to pacify the
discontented portion of the Russian Empire. He is de-
pendent directly upon the Czar for his power.

We must here intercept our tale of the administration of
Mirsky for a few moments, and look back to Finland, that
fair and lovely daughter of the Lutheran Baltic, for whom, in
her persecution and humiliation, the prayers of our church
have been rising - even here in the distant west.

THE policy of Plehve and Pobiedonostzeff in Poland, among
the Semites, the Armenians, the Nihilist, of the em-
pire, and the Germans of the Baltic provinces was
pressed even into peaceful and loyal Finland. Her "russifica-
tion" was determined on.

In the autumn of 1902 a series of ordinances were pro-



27

mulgated which ruthlessly swept away the liberties and privi-
leges of the Finlanders and visited the most perfect and en-
lightened province in Russia with darkness and ruin. The
Finnish Diet was deprived of effective power of legislation :
the Finnish official positions were filled by Russians : Finnish
judges were dismissed. Any public servant could be retired
without the right of appeal. The most painful ordinance was
the denial of any appeal whatever to the courts for private
citizens. The Czar is said to have decorated constables for
actions which the Finnish Courts pronounced crimes.

The formal abrogation of Finland's constitution was im-
mediately followed by a number of deportations. Relentlessly
was the tyrannical system extended against all the best and
most loyal men of the country, ex-senators, merchants, land-
owners, peasant farmers, school masters, pastors and bergo-
masters. Thus it has gone on for many months.

But matters came to a head in the middle of last June,
General Bobrikoff, the relentless russifier and governor gen-
eral of Finland, was shot and killed at Helsingfors by a young
Finn, and not only in Finland but throughout Russia new en-
couragement was given to the revolutionists. Thus did the
holy policy of the narrow-minded Pobiedonostzeff bring on a
crisis, among the people who were most loyal* to the Rus-
sians.

As an answer to this assassination in Finland the Russian
bureaucracy appointed prince Obolensky the new governor
general of Finland in July. Obolensky is reported to be one
of the most cruel and ruthless administrators in Russia. He
has suppressed students' riots and agrarian movements. He
has turned peasants into beggars, and had them beaten by
cossacks. In 1902 an attempt was made to assassinate him.
His first act in Finland was to suppress several newspapers,
and he has standing orders from St. Petersburg, "to
strengthen in the minds of the Finnish people the conviction
that their destinies are indissolubly bound up with Russia."



вЩ¶When Russia had to confront the united forces of England, France and
Piedmont, Nicholas I chose hie loyal Finnish regiments as the ones to be
trusted in the protection of his capital St. Petersburg.



28

Later this fall, in October, or in the beginning of No-
vember, Russia took the extreme step of asking Sweden to
refuse right of asylum to Finns, and requested Sweden to
grant officials from St. Petersburg the right to make a house
to house search in Sweden for Finnish refugees. It appears
that Russia desires prominent Finns now residing in Stockholm
to be surrendered to agents of the St. Petersburg police. The
Russians base their claim upon the international agreement
that anarchists are to be surrendered upon demand, and they
take the view that the assassination of Bobrikoff was inspired
by a Finnish group operating from Sweden. Finns and
Swedes are united by common bonds of language, traditions
and institutions, as well as by religion, and this last step of
Russia has greatly incensed Scandinavia. And in this Scandi-
navian feeling America joins. Andrew D. White, the ex-
American minister to St. Petersburg, declares that to his
mind the destruction of the liberties of Finland has been the
most wicked thing in the history of the last two centuries.
He says, "It has turned the best, the most civilized, the most:
educated, and the most loyal province in the empire into a
land in which the opposite of all these characteristics is more
highly developed than in any other part of the empire."

BUT let us return to Russia herself. What prince Mirsky
has accomplished for the relief of Russia within six or
eight weeks seems almost fabulous. The press of
Russia seems to have received notice that to form and ex-
press an opinion on public affairs was no longer a crime.
Mirsky has appealed for a policy of mutual confidence be-
tween government and people. He has restored to the pro-
vincial assembly its ancient liberty of deliberation and ex-
pression, and has called a council of the presidents of the pro-
vincial assemblies to deliberate concerning the condition of
Russia. It is the first authorized assembling of these officials
from all over Russia. The Council is of a private character
and discusses three things : I. The widening of the provincial
activity of the assembly. 2. The organization of a central



2 9

administration of agriculture. 3. The co-operation of local
provincial hospitals in the case of wounded people.

In Finland, with which it was supposed that Mirsky could
have nothing to do, the Russian policy has been greatly
ameliorated, and astonishing to say, the Finnish National
Diet has been called to meet this month and assurances have
been given, for the first time, in the history of Russia, that it
will meet again in five years. About the middle of November
prominent Finlanders who were exiled by Plehve received
permission to return home. The oppressive activity of the
police has been relaxed. Banishment by administration
order has been abolished. Hundreds of prisoners exiled to
Siberia have been recalled. The Jews have received assur-
ances of the dawning of a brighter day. Students' demonstra-
tions are not suppressed by military power, and a part of the
censorship has been removed from the Russian papers.

It was the 31st of last August, when Finland was stirred
with joy by the definite announcement that the Finnish As-
sembly would be convened on the 6th of December. There
had been great fear that this convention would be suppressed,
and though the program to be taken up is not adequate, the
simple fact that the four orders, in which the whole tradition
of the Finns is bound up, are again to be called together, to-
gether with the new and gracious manifesto of the Czar, pro-
duced a profound impression. The decree of the Czar not
only includes a meeting for this year, but also preparations
for an assembly in three years to come, by which the consti-
tutional provision of Finland, that the Assembly shall meet
in periods of not less than five years, will have been fulfilled for
the first time since the country has been under Russian
sovereignty. It is felt that the step perhaps pointed to some
cessation of continuous Russianization, which was carried on
so steadily by Plehve. It certainly looks as though the
prayers which were offered a year ago in many parts of the
American Church for the relief of Finland were now in pro-
cess of being fulfilled.

Naturally a tremendous liberal rebound has occurred and
hopes have been raised which cannot expect fulfillment, and



30

which may again bring on reaction. The bureaucracy has
raised a storm of opposition against the new minister, and are
using every possible weapon to undermine him. They have
done their best to postpone the meeting of the. presidents of
the provincial assembly and M. Pobiedonostzeff has warned
the emperor that autocracy and orthodoxy will both probably
be in danger if the present movement is not stopped promptly.

AN illustration of the manner in which Russia has been
dealing with her provinces, may be found in the rob-
bery of the Armenian church, which took place in 1898.
The Russian governor of the Caucasus made, propositions to
his nation concerning the confiscation of the property of the
Armenian church, naturally without the knowledge of the
Catholikos of the said church. A commission, and subse-
quently the Russian government itself, under Prince Nikola
really advised against this project. But the governor
general hated Armenia violently, and now turned to Plehve,
who also declined to act in the. matter. From Plehve he turn-
ed to the Czar, picturing the Armenians as revolutionaries
and declaring that they were using the property of the church
for revolutionary purposes. Minister Witte opposed any
confiscation, but nevertheless, on June 12, 1903, the Czar ap-
proved it.

When this Russian intention became known in Armenia,
broadsides were immediately published, threatening every
clergyman with death who turned over the property or goods
of the Armenian church into the Russian hands. Finally the
procurator of the Synod of Edschmiatsim appeared before the.
Catholikos with the imperial decree of Russia and gave him
seven days to sign it. The latter replied that he was astonish-
ed at this attack of Russia upon the rights of the church, and
needed time to think.

Four days later the procurator came again and reminded
him of the imperial decree. The Catholikos showed him the
door. Meantime he had called the bishops and arch-bishops
and officials of the Armenian church together. They ranged
themselves on the side of the Armenian people, and advised



3i

the Catholikos not to sign the decree, and he did not. If the
Russian government should persist, it was resolved that all
the ecclesiastical officials from the Catholikos down should
lay down their office.

This conclusion was telegraphed to the governor of Cau-
casia, and, at the same time, a telegram was sent to Von Plehve,
asking for time for consideration. However, the delivery of
the property had already begun. One of the Armenian cus-
todians had turned over part of it, and a million marks, which
had been deposited in the Russian bank, were absorbed by the
government. The Catholikos protested that no one dare de-
liver the property of the church without his consent, and he de-
posed the offending official and sent him into a monastery for
punishment. A telegram was sent to the Czar, asking him
for mercy, but through Von Plehve, reply came that the de-
crees were to be fulfilled, and if they were not, responsibility
would fall upon the patriarchs. Meantime, the excitement
was growing among the people. The custodians of church
property were threatened with death if they gave it over. The
patriarch of Constantinople telegraphed to the Catholikos that
he had no right to hand over the Armenian church funds to
the Russian government, that the same was the property of the
whole Armenian nation and that many foundations belonging
to non- Russian Armenians were included therein.

On these, funds, which run up to about five hundred mil-
lion of marks, the Armenian schools are supported, together
with four seminaries and a number of high schools, and many
institutions of mercy.

The former minister of the interior had delivered the ulti-
matum to the head of the Armenian church that if the funds
were not handed over voluntarily the ministry would have to
answer the question whether the Armenian church could con-
tinue to exist on Russian territory.

In sharp contrast with this act of Russia, Damianos of
Jerusalem has loaned Alexieff a golden cross, which contains
"a genuine piece of the Cross on which Christ was crucified."
In the letter accompanying the gift the Patriarch says, "Nam-
ing you as a knight of the Holy Grave of the Lord, from which



32

Christianity has originated, we give you in this golden cross a
genuine piece of the Holy life-bringing wood, upon which the
God-man and Redeemer has recognized us as the recipients
of his endless blessings. And so may this Holy gift be a power
of strength to you in the Holy duties that you are pursuing.
Given in the Holy city of Jerusalem, March 15, 1904."

THE centre of all Russian ferment is the Czar. Many
are the opinions with regard to him. Under misrepre-
sentation of his advisers, he has more than once been a
severe oppressor, yet the world seems to be conscious of his
kindly, humane and liberal intentions. His deeds have spoken
for him. On the 10th of March, 1893, he issued the Ukase


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Online LibraryTheodore E[manuel] SchmaukThe year of our Lord, 1904; a survey of the world → online text (page 3 of 11)