- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
252

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH THE CAUCASUS TO THE VOLGA
252
Over 30 million people were starving, and besides
this epidemics swept them, worst of all, spotted
typhus. Over three million died in spite of the help
which came too late, and too little of it. And over
these same plains thousands of wasted men and
women fled, without food and not knowing whither
—only to get away, away through the icy winter,
while they and their last camels and horses fell dead
along the frozen roads.
All traffic in the rivers stopped by the ice, the
railways in confusion : the few trains that ran, over
flowing with fugitives, came to a stop on the way ;
people died in the carriages. Horrors on every side.
And in past times? What cannot the history of
these steppes relate of want, cruelty, changing
fortunes? Host after host has marched over them,
dealing death, destruction, and want : Huns, Avars,
Pechenegs, Mongols, Turks, Tatars. And last came
the eivil war, and the great famine to end all.
But in this tough, patient people’s depths there
still lic capabilities and forces as yet unused. In
their wonderful music one feels as though from
the echo of past sufferings, of great melancholy of
the steppes, hope rises up for a day that is to dawn.
But now the journey was soon to end. On the
i6th of July wc reached Saratov; from here wc
were to take the tram to Moscow, and so on to
Norway. Wc had to say farewell to the Volga, and
to the life on its slowly gliding waters. Through the
steppe-land it flows on in summer’s beauty and
under winter’s cloak, as that deep melancholy
flows through the history of the Russian people.

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