ESCAPE FROM RUSSIA
Clara Clemens, Mark Twain's Daughter, and Her Husband Rescue His Brothers
"AMERICAN money pasted between the leaves of novels and between sheets of music was responsible for my brother-in-law's release from Russia, where he had been practically a prisoner in his own apartment for the past three years," said Clara Clemens, daughter of Mark Twain, who, with her husband, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, has just returned from a Summer in Germany, Switzerland, England and France. Miss Clemens, when seen at her apartment at 14 East Sixtieth Street, seemed to be in excellent health and spirits. She has not, however, entirely recovered from a serous attack of influenza, which for some time has made her more or less of an invalid.
"My brother-in-law, Georges Gabrilowitsch," she said, "arrived in Berlin just before we left that city, after a most frightful journey from Petrograd to Riga. He said that all but two rooms in his apartment had been seized by the Soviet Government; that all his money had been taken from him, and that for nearly three years he had but one meal a day. His hair was almost white, although he is still young, and he was emaciated to a shadow of his former self. The trip from Petrograd to Riga was made in a train packed so full of people it was impossible for one of them to sit down unless they all sat down. Food, what little there was of it, was gathered along the way wherever the train stopped. This journey which, in the old days, took but twenty-four hours now takes for six to seven days.
"As he was not in sympathy with the Soviet Government, he had been treated as any prisoner. He said it was impossible to describe the tyranny under which he and other non-sympathizers had lived. The people whose houses and money had been seized had one or two rooms to live in, one meal a day and were allowed to go to walk only at certain hours. The fare, even before the famine made it impossible to get grain and other foods, was unspeakable.
"It was principally to get his two brothers out of Russia that my husband went to England this Summer. In London, he talked with Mr. Krassin, and while he was very helpful, in fact appeared anxious to help, and told my husband just how to send money into Russia, it somehow went astray before it reached its destination. We did not know just where it was lost, we never did know, but it was months before any money reached our two brothers. Finally, we tried pasting bills in books - story books - and between sheets of music. Some of this got through and some if it didn't. At least enough got through to bring them out. We have just received word that the second one has reached Riga.
"According to my brother-in-law, reports coming out of Russia are not exaggerated. There is no food and there are no clothes. The people are tired of the present regime. What the next step will be no one seems to know.
"Life in Munich where I spent several months the past year, is not as cheerful as it used to be in the old days. Every one goes to the opera to be sure, just as they always have, but there is no gala dressing as before the war. Somehow one does not feel like wearing gay clothes in Munich. It just isn't done.
"There was one Bolshevist demonstration while I was there. We went out one morning and saw large placards pasted on all the billboards warning people to keep off the streets at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, as there would be a revolutionary demonstration. We went out at that hour, however, and there was a big crowd in the street - a boisterous crowd. The soldiers had been called out and there were machine guns on most of the street corners. One man was killed and several wounded. Friends of mine who had been in Munich two years earlier, during the big revolution, when 2,000 persons were killed, did not think this one very serious. Many of the buildings still bear the bullet marks of the civil war of two years ago.
"While the officials make it difficult to gain entry to Bavaria, many refugees from all parts of the world are there now - Poles, Hungarians, Russians, Bulgarians. They are a restless crowd. The returned soldier class is also a disturbing element. Today they want a democracy, tomorrow they want another form of government, and so it goes. Our visit in Berlin was not interrupted by an similar demonstration. There things are much quieter and life has resumed its old routine.
"A great friend of mine, Countess S., who had belonged to the Court circles in Vienna, and had saved a very little money, was living in Munich. We went to the opera often together. One evening she pointed out a quietly dressed gentleman sitting in one of the boxes and said, 'That is the ex-Czar of Bulgaria.' A few nights later we were late getting to the opera. After the curtain goes up one must always wait until the end of the act. They are very strict in Europe about this. No one is ever allowed to enter during an act. As this opera was a modern one and this one a premiere and there was but one act, we had visions of missing the whole it, when the ex-Czar of Bulgaria came along, and, being a friend of the Countess, stopped and spoke to us. We told him our trouble, and he said he would see what he could do. In a few minutes he came back and took us into the opera house. Even ex-royalty still has its privileges in some places in Europe."
Miss Clemens has gone to Detroit to join her husband, who is director of the
Symphony Orchestra there. She plans to return to Munich in May and give a historical
series of national songs. This series will embrace the history of the songs
of all nations from the beginning to the present day.