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ical condition of such prisoners when finally released. In April, 1883, the Department of Imperial Police sent an order to the commandant of the fortress to make up a large party of condemned politicals for deportation to the East Siberian mines. The commandant, after consultation with the fortress surgeon and with the officer appointed to take charge of the convoy, reported that most of the political prisoners named in the order were so weak that they probably could not endure three days' travel, that more than half of them were unable to stand on their feet without support, and that the convoy officer declined to take charge of prisoners who were in such physical condition unless he could be freed from all responsibility for deaths that might occur on the road. In view of this state of affairs the commandant recommended that the condemned politicals who had been selected for deportation be removed to the House of Preliminary Detention, and be held there under more favorable conditions until they should recover strength enough to render their transportation to Siberia practicable. Acting upon this suggestion, the Director of the Imperial Police ordered the removal of twenty-two prisoners, including six women, from the casemates of the fortress to comparatively light and airy cells in one of the upper stories of the House of Detention.* Of the prisoners so removed six were already in an advanced stage of consumption, and twelve were so feeble that they could not walk nor stand, and were carried from their casemates to carriages, either in the arms of the prison
* The names of these prisoners, with their ages, stations in life, and terms of penal servitude, are as follows:
1. Anna Pavlovna Korba; age 32; school-teacher, and afterward, during the Russo-Turkish war of 187778, a Red Cross nurse in a field hospital at the front; 20 years' penal servitude.
2. Anna Yakimova; age 27; school-teacher; penal servitude for life.
3. Praskovia Ivanofskaya; age 30; school-teacher; penal servitude for life.
4. Tatiana Lebedeva; age 31; school-teacher; penal servitude for lite.
5. Nadezhda Smirnitskaya; age 31; student in women's college [Vwyshi Zhenski Kursi]; 15 years' penal servitude.
6. Antonina Lisofskaya; age 26; student in women's college; 4 years' penal servitude. [She died of consumption at the mines of Kara a few weeks previous to my arrival there.-G. K.]
1. Mirski; age 26; student; penal servitude for life. [He had lain four years in a casemate of the Alexei ravelin.-G. K.]
2. Voloshenko; age 31; student; penal servitude
3. Nagorni; age 25; student; penal servitude for life.
guard or upon stretchers. In the House of Preliminary Detention these wrecks of human beings received medical care and were fed with nourishing food and stimulants for about three months, at the expiration of which time all except Fridenson and Emelianoff were reported convalescent. Orloff and Madame Lebedeva were still suffering from scurvy, and the others were mere shadows of their former selves; but they were officially regarded as strong enough to begin their toilsome journey of nearly five thousand miles to the mines of the Trans-Baikal.
THE DEPARTURE FOR SIBERIA.
I SHALL never forget, while I live [said to me an exile who went with these condemned prisoners to Detention before our departure. It was the night of Siberia], the last night in the House of Preliminary July 24-25, 1883. A rumor was current among the political prisoners that a large party would start for Siberia on the following morning, but no one knew did not notice any unusual sounds until shortly after who was to go, and all were awake and watchful. I midnight, when a cell near mine was thrown open, and I heard, passing my door, the once familiar footsteps of a dear friend and comrade, who had been long in prison, and whom I had not seen since the years of our early manhood, when we breathed together the air of freedom and worked hand in hand for the realization of our ideals. The convict party was evidently being of the Trans-Baikal. In ten or fifteen minutes I heard made up, and my friend was to go with it to the mines his footsteps returning, but they were not so rapid and assured as before and were accompanied by the sharp metallic clink and rattle of chains. He had been put table, and yet the first sound of the chains chilled me into leg-fetters. I knew, of course, that this was ineviwith a vague sense of horror. It seemed unnatural and incredible that he
4. Fomin; age 25; for life.
the man whom I loved like a
army officer; penal servitude 5. Yevseief; age 26; peasant; penal servitude for life.
6. Zlatapolski; age 35; technologist ; 20 years' penal servitude.
7. Pribuiloff; age 25; physician; 15 years' penal servitude.
8. Kaluzhni; age 26; student; 15 years' penal servitude.
9. Orloff; age 27; student; 13 years' penal servitude.
10. Novitski; age 29; student; 12 years' penal servitude.
II. Hekker; age 19; 10 years' penal servitude. 12. Stephanovich; age 30; student; 8 years' penal servitude.
servitude. [I saw Liustig in the Irkutsk prison in Sep13. Liustig; age 27; army officer; 4 years' penal tember, 1885, but had no opportunity to talk with him alone.-G. K.]
14. Kuziumkin; age 21; peasant; 4 years' penal servitude.
The twelve prisoners carried out of the fortress were Mesdames Yakimova, Smirnitskaya, and Korba; and Messrs. Zlatapolski, Liustig, Voloshenko, Nagorni, Kaluzhni, Mirski, Hekker, Fridenson, and Emelianoff.
brother; the man whom I regarded as the embodiment of everything good, brave, and generous - had already been fettered like a common highway robber, and was about to go into penal servitude. For a time I paced my cell in uncontrollable nervous agitation, and at last, as prisoner after prisoner was taken from my corridor to the prison work-shop and came back in clanking fetters, I could endure it no longer, and throwing myself on the bed I covered my head with pillows and bed-clothing in order to shut out, if possible, the hateful sound of the chains.
About 3 o'clock in the morning an overseer unlocked and opened the door of my cell and said to me, "Come!" I followed him to the office of the prison, where the commander of the convoy made a careful examination of my person, noted my features and physical characteristics as set forth in a description which he held in his hand, compared my face with that of a photograph taken soon after my arrest, and at last, being apparently satisfied as to my identity, received me formally from the prison authorities. I was then taken down a flight of stairs to the corps de garde, a large room on the ground floor, at the door of which stood an armed sentry. The spacious but low and gloomy hall was dimly lighted by a few flaring lamps and candles, and in the middle of it, at two long bare tables, sat ten or fifteen men and women, in coarse gray convict overcoats, drinking tea. The heads of the men were half shaven, they all wore chains and leg-fetters, and on the back of every prisoner, between the shoulders, appeared the two black diamonds which signify that the criminal so marked is a hard-labor convict. Near the door, in a little group, stood six or eight uniformed gendarmes and officers of the detective police, who watched the prisoners intently, whispering now and then among themselves as if communicating to one another the results of their observations. The stillness of the room was unbroken save by the faint hissing of two or three brass samovars on the tables, and an occasional jingle of chains as one of the convicts moved his feet. There was no conversation, and a chance observer would never have imagined that the gray-coated figures sitting silently side by side at the tables were near friends, and in some cases relatives, who had long been buried in the casemates of the fortress, and who were looking into one another's faces for the first time in years.
As I entered the room, one of the prisoners, whose face I did not at first recognize but who proved to be an old friend, rushed forward to meet me, and as he threw his arms around me whispered in my ear, "Don't recognize anybody but me - the gendarmes are watching us." I understood the warning. The police really knew very little about the history and the revolutionary records of some of the political convicts who were present, and it was important that they should not be able to get a clew to any one's identity or past history by noting recognitions as prisoner after prisoner was brought in. The incautious manifestation of emotion by one convict as he met another might result in the return of both to the casemates of the fortress and their detention there until their mutual relations could be investigated. This was the reason for the silence which prevailed throughout the gloomy hall and for the seeming indifference with which the prisoners regarded one another. They were apparently strangers, but in reality they were bound together by innumerable ties of friendship and memories of the past; and as they looked into one another's faces, and noted the changes that time and suffering had wrought, they maintained their composure only by the most heroic effort. On one side of the table sat an old comrade of whom we had heard nothing in years and whom we had all supposed to be dead. On the other side were a young man and his betrothed, who for five years had not seen each other, and who, when thus reunited under the eyes of the gendarmes, did not dare to speak. Near
them sat a pale, thin woman about twenty-seven years of age, who held in her arms a sickly baby born in a casemate of the fortress, and who looked anxiously at the door every time it opened with the hope of seeing her husband brought in to join the party. Most of us knew that her husband was dead, but no one dared to tell her that she watched the door in vain.
Nothing could have been more dramatic than the scene in that gloomy hall at half-past 4 o'clock in the morning, when the last of the condemned prisoners had been brought in. The strange and unnatural stillness in a room filled with people; the contrast between the blue and silver uniforms of the gendarmes and the coarse gray overcoats, chains, and leg-fetters of the prisoners; the furtive whisperings of the detective police; and the silence and assumed stolidity of the pale, emaciated, shaven-headed convicts would have made the scene striking and impressive even to a chance spectator. To one, however, who could look beneath the surface of things; who could appreciate the tragic significance of the situation; and who could see with spiritual insight the hot tides of hatred, agony, sympathy, and pity which surged under those gray overcoats, the scene was not merely striking and impressive, but terrible and heart-rending.
At 5 o'clock we were taken in closed carriages to the station of the St. Petersburg and Moscow railway, were put into convict cars with grated windows, and began our long and eventful journey to Siberia. I could not describe, if I would, the scenes that I witnessed in that train, when we were at last freed from the espionage of the gendarmes; when we could greet and embrace one another openly without fear; and could relate to one another the histories of our lives during the long years of our enforced separation. The experiences of all were essentially alike, and the stories were an endless epopee of suffering. We talked all day, and should perhaps have talked all night had not the over-strained nerves of the weaker members of the party given way at last under the tension of excitement and the sudden in-rush of a flood of new sensations and new emotions. To a prisoner who had lived for years in the silence and solitude of a bomb-proof casemate the noise and rush of the train, the unfamiliar sight of God's green world, and the faces and voices of friends who seemed to have been raised suddenly from the dead, were at first intensely exciting; but the excitement was soon followed by complete prostration. Early in the evening one of my comrades, without the least warning, suddenly became hysterical, and in less than ten minutes seven men in our car were either delirious or lying on the floor in a state of unconsciousness. Some of them raved and cried, some went from one long faint into another, and some lay motionless and breathless in a profound swoon until we almost gave them up for dead. The surgeon who accompanied the convoy was summoned, stimulants were administered, water was dashed into the white, ghastly faces, and everything was done that could be done to restore the sufferers to a normal condition; but all night the car was filled with moans and hysterical weeping, and the women of the party-particularly Anna Pavlovna Korba, who was stronger and more self-possessed than any of the men - went from one fainting or hysterical patient to another with restoratives, stimulants, and soothing ministrations. When we arrived in Moscow nearly half of the party had to be carried out of the car in the arms of the guard, and our journey was temporarily suspended in order that they might receive medical treatment.
It may perhaps seem to the reader that the above description, which was first given to me orally by a member of the party, and which afterward, at my request, was written out in
detail, is sensational and exaggerated; but I have simply to say that the condition of that party has been described to me many times, not only by politicals, but by officers of the Exile Administration. One of the latter, who saw the party after it left Moscow and before it crossed the Siberian frontier, said to me that the prisoners who composed it were little more than epileptics-mere wrecks of human beings, who fainted at the least excitement. He probably would not have made this admission had he not been trying to prove in an argument with me that the condition of politicals in Siberia, and even at the mines, was far better than in the fortresses and central convict prisons of European Russia.
"BREAKING THE CHARACTERS OF POLITICAL OFFENDERS.
I HAVE never been able to obtain from any officer of the Russian government a satisfactory explanation of the fact, that while condemned murderers, highway robbers, and other common felons are allowed almost unrestricted intercommunication and association in the forwarding prisons, and are deported as speedily as practicable to Siberia, political criminals of the same grade are thrown into fortress casemates, or into the "secret" cells of central convict prisons, are detained there for years in the strictest isolation, and are sent to Siberia only when their minds and bodies have been almost hopelessly wrecked by hardships, privations, and solitude. There is a story current among the exiles in Siberia to the effect that when the penal servitude section of the Petropavlovsk fortress was organized, a late director of the Imperial Police, whose name I purposely withhold, explained its object by saying that it was intended to "break the characters" of political offenders. Whether such a remark was really made or not, and whether, if made, it was the authorized statement of a real purpose, I do not know, but in any case the words express forcibly and concisely the actual tendency of this cruel
At the time of that great spiritual and moral awakening of the youth of Russia which resulted in the socalled movement "to the people," between the years 1870 and 1875, it was a common thing for a young man to emancipate a young woman from the patriarchal tyr. anny and the cramped life of a Russian provincial household, by contracting with her what was called a "fictitious marriage." The ceremony was not fictitious in the sense of illegality,- it was, on the contrary, a valid and binding tie,- but the contracting parties did not live together and never expected to do so. The young man voluntarily sacrificed his domestic future, and all his anticipations of home and family, for the sake of liberating some young girl from the despotic power of the head of her household, and giving her an opportunity to educate herself and to make herself useful to "the people and the Fatherland." Hundreds VOL. XXXV.- 104.
THE EMPRESS'S PHOTOGRAPH. IN the month of October, 1880, there arrived at the Russian provincial prison of Mtsensk a party of condemned politicals, who had just been released from four or five years of solitary confinement in the fortress of Petropavlovsk and the central convict prison of Kharkoff, and who were on their way to the East Siberian mines. It happened to be my fortune to find several of these condemned prisoners still alive in various parts of Siberia in 1885, and to make the acquaintance, near Irkutsk, of an exiled journalist named Xwho was in the Mtsensk prison when these convicts arrived there. The condition of the condemned party was pitiable in the extreme. Two of them-Plotnikoff and Donetskiwere hopelessly insane, three or four others were hysterical or subject to hallucinations, and all were so worn, emaciated, and weak that it was found necessary to postpone their deportation to Siberia until they could be revived and restored to something like health by means of stimulants and nourishing food.
It was pitiful [said Mr. X, in describing to me the appearance of these condemned convicts] to see how the mental powers of some of them had been wrecked by misery and solitude. Donetski, before his arrest, had contracted a "fictitious marriage" with a young girl in a Russian provincial town, for the purpose of freeing her from the patriarchal despotism of her home, and affording her an opportunity to educate herself at St. Petersburg. He had parted from her at the church door and had never again seen her; but after he went insane in the central prison of Kharkoff, he constantly raved about her, and seemed to think that she would come to him if she were not prevented from doing so by the Government. He had obtained in some way while in prison a small card photograph of the Empress, taken when she was the Crown Princess of such marriages were contracted in all parts of Rus. sia between 1870 and 1875, and in many cases the young men had never seen, previous to marriage, the young women to whom they bound themselves, and knew of their existence only through mutual friends. Sometimes fictitious husbands met and fell in love with their wives in prison or in exile many years after their nominal union; but in most cases their respective fields of activity were widely separated, and they remained strangers. The purpose of these fictitious marriages was a pure and noble one, but the method adopted to carry out that purpose was in the highest degree quixotic and impracticable, and it was ultimately abandoned. At the time when Donetski lay insane in the central prison of Kharkoff, his fictitious wife was under arrest upon a political charge in Moscow.
Dagmar, and after he became insane he imagined that it was a photograph of his fictitious wife, and would look at it for hours with the most ardent affection and admiration. In the prison of Mtsensk, where he was put into a large cell with other political convicts, he would show to the latter this worn and soiled portrait of the Empress, and say, with a sort of childish pride, "This is my wife- is n't she beautiful?" Then with a mournful intonation he would add, "I have asked them so many times to send for her I know she would come- but [hysterically] they don't do it - they don't do it!" Could anything [said Mr. X-] be more touch ing and pathetic than to find a political convict in chains and leg-fetters cherishing as his dearest possession a photograph of her Majesty the Empress to see a revolutionist insane from ill-treatment at the hands of the Government and in love with the wife of
THE INSANE POLITICAL PRISONER,
THE case of Plotnikoff, the other insane prisoner in this party of condemned politicals from the central prison of Kharkoff, was, if possible, even more pitiable than that of Donetski. At the time of his arrest he was a student in the Moscow University-a quiet, modest young fellow about twenty years of age, with a very attractive and lovable character and a rather serious and thoughtful disposition. He had been well educated and was a good linguist, speaking fluently four or five languages, including English, French, and German. He had never been engaged in active revolutionary work, but was a member of a so-called "circle" of young people in Moscow, known from the name of its founder as the "Dolgushintsi." He was arrested, tried, and sentenced to penal servitude, and the world of the living knew him no more.
When he came to Mtsensk [said one of my informants] he was a broken, insane, emaciated man about twenty-eight years of age, and had been eight years in solitary confinement. How long he had been insane I do not know; but his condition was evidently hopeless, as his mania had assumed a religious form and was accompanied by profound melancholy. He still retained consciousness of the fact that he was a political criminal, but that fact seemed to be a source of distress and humiliation to him, and he did not like to be reminded of it. He was particularly ashamed of his chain and leg-fetters, and used to try in every possible way to conceal them. When I first saw him he had carefully wrapped up all the links of his chain in rags, so that they should not jingle when he moved and thus call the attention of others to what he regarded as his disgrace. He saved carefully all the pieces of old clothing and foot-wrappers which fell into his hands, and finally made out of them a sort of ragged patchwork petticoat, which, when tied about his waist, fell to the floor all around like a woman's dress and entirely concealed from sight both his leg-fetters and his muffled chain, His hair was long on one side of the head and closely shaven on the other, and this, with his coarse gray prison shirt, and the patchwork petticoat hanging from his waist to the floor and concealing his legs, made him the most extraordinary figure I had ever
During all the time that Plotnikoff had been in the penal servitude section of the fortress, and in the central prison of Kharkoff, his mother had neither seen him, communicated with him, nor had news of him; but as soon as she heard that he had been removed from the prison of Kharkoff to Mtsensk and was about to be sent to Siberia, she implored the Minister of the Interior to allow her a last interview with him. If the Minister had been aware that Plotnikoff was insane, he probably would have refused to allow the mother to see him; but high Government officials cannot be expected to remember the names of all the condemned politicals in Russian prisons who happen to
When Madame Plotnikoff, eager and excited, presented herself at the Mtsensk prison and asked to see her son, the warden, who was naturally a kind-hearted man, tried to dissuade her from her purpose by telling her that her son was about to go to Siberia for life; that he was virtually dead to her already; that he was greatly worn and broken by long imprisonment; and that she would be happier if she would content herself with remembering him as he was in boyhood, or as he appeared when she last saw him, and not lay up for herself a new store of bitter memories by insisting upon an interview that could only increase her grief and renew her sense of bereavement. The mother, however, would not be denied. She had been granted permission to see her son, and see him she would. The warden then tried to prepare her for a great change in her son's appearance, and finally told her frankly that he was broken down mentally and physically and that she might not know him. The mother, however, would not believe that she could fail to recognize her boy, however pale, however wasted by prison confinement, he might be. Seeing at last that argument, persuasion, and forewarning were all useless, the warden conducted the mother to the interview room of the prison, where her son sat reading a prison Bible. For a moment she gazed at him in amazement and horror. In the wild-looking figure before her, with its thin, yellowish face, half-shaven head, coarse gray prison shirt, and patchwork petticoat, she could not see even a suggestion of the boy from whom she had parted eight years before. As she looked at him, however, some maternal instinct told her that it was indeed her son, and with a cry, which was half joy and half terror, she threw herself upon him and clasped him in her arms. The insane prisoner shrank away from her in alarm and embarrassment, and as he strove to unclasp her arms and escape from her embrace she looked into his eyes and the truth suddenly
flashed upon her. The body was that of her son, but the mind was gone. The abruptness of this terrible shock was more than her overstrained nerves could bear. She sank on the floor in a deep swoon and was carried out of the room unconscious. Plotnikoff was sent to the insane asylum at Kazan, and shortly afterward died there.
The facts above set forth I obtained partly from political convicts who were confined with Plotnikoff in the prison of Kharkoff, and partly from exiles who were in the Mtsensk prison when he arrived there and when he was visited by his mother. All of my informants are still in Siberia, and most of them are in the Trans-Baikal.
ARE EXILES' ACCOUNTS OF PRISON LIFE EXAGGERATED?
It may, perhaps, seem to the reader that accounts of prison life obtained from political exiles are likely to be overcolored and exaggerated — that it must in the nature of things be impossible for a man who has had such an experience to regard it fairly and judicially and to describe it without overstatement. I fully understand and appreciate this skeptical attitude toward such facts as those set forth in these papers; but I must say, in justice to the ex-prisoners whose acquaintance I made in Siberia, that they were reluctant, rather than eager, to live over again in narration these terrible months and years of their lives, and that when, by persistent questioning, I succeeded in getting at their darkest memories, it was often at the expense of an outburst of grief which was almost as painful to me as to the narrator. A Russian author, whose name is known even in Western Europe, and who is now an exile in Eastern Siberia, attempted to describe to me one night the death in the fortress of a comrade an army officer- to whom he was tenderly and devotedly attached. Before he ended his recital my eyes were full of tears, and he himself was pacing the floor with tightly clinched hands, striving to control his emotion and to keep his voice from breaking, while his breast heaved with the tearless, convulsive sobs which make the grief of a strong man more painful to witness than even the uncontrolled weeping of a woman. He succeeded in finishing his story; but he would talk of the fortress no more that night. In the mind of any one who heard that recital there could have been no question of exaggeration or overstatement. Men are not thus profoundly moved by the simulated recollection of unreal experience.
If his Imperial Majesty the Tsar, to whose eyes I hope these pages may come, will sum
mon the officer who was warden of the Kharkoff Central Prison in 1880, and the commandant and the surgeon who served in the Petropavlovsk fortress in 1883, and will personally examine those officers, and, if necessary, their subordinates, as to the mental and physical condition of the political convicts who left those prisons for Siberia in the years named, he will learn at least one of the reasons why, when he goes from St. Petersburg to Moscow, it is necessary to guard the railway with twenty thousand soldiers.
THE HOUSE OF PRELIMINARY DETENTION.
ONE of the most interesting prisons in European Russia, and the only one containing politicals that I was permitted to inspect, is the House of Preliminary Detention in St. Petersburg. It is not, properly speaking, a political prison, since most of the persons therein confined are common criminals; but it has held at times as many as three hundred political offenders awaiting trial or exile to Siberia. It is, in a certain sense, the great show prison of the empire, and has been particularly commended by the Rev. Henry Lansdell as an illustration of "what Russia can do" in this particular field. It was constructed in 1873-75, under the supervision of a special commission appointed by the Minister of Justice and the Minister of the Interior jointly, and in accordance with plans drawn by Actual State Counselor Maiefski. It cost more than 800,000 rubles (about $400,000 at the present rate of exchange), contained all sorts of modern improvements in the shape of heating and ventilating apparatus, and was believed to embody the latest results of scientific experiment in the department of prison architecture. From the fact, however, that a criminal suit based on alleged incompetence was instituted against the architect before the building had been fairly completed, it would appear that its defects as a prison soon became manifest. To what extent, when completed, it answered the purposes for which it was designed may be inferred from the fact that between 1875 and 1880 it was formally condemned by three successive prison commissions.*
In the summer of 1886, armed with a permit from Mr. Galkin-Vrasskoi, Chief of the Prison and Exile Department, I presented myself at the door of the House of Preliminary Detention, sent my card to the warden, and was promptly admitted. The prison is situated in the heart of the city, on a corner of the Liteni Prospekt, directly behind the Circuit Court.
*"Prison and Exile" [Tiurma i Sylka], by V. N. Nikitin [one of the Directors of the St. Petersburg Prison Committee], p. 519. St. Petersburg, 1880.