My childhood was not one of hunger and cold. My family had already achieved a competence at the time of my birth. But it was the stern competence of people still rising from poverty and having no desire to stop half-way. Every muscle was strained, every thought set on work and savings. Such a domestic routine left but a modest place for the children. We knew no need, but neither did we know the generosities of life â€” its caresses. My childhood does not appear to me like a sunny meadow, as it does to the small minority; neither does it appear like a dark cave of hunger, violence and misery, as it does to the majority. Mine was the grayish childhood of a lower-middle-class family, spent in a village in an obscure corner where nature is wide, and manners, views and interests are pinched and narrow.
The first nine years of my life, without a break, I spent in the country. During the next seven years I returned there every summer, sometimes also at Christmas and Easter. I was closely bound to Yanovka and all its environs until I was nearly eighteen. Throughout the early part of my childhood the influence of the country was paramount. In the next period, however, it had to defend itself against the influence of the town, and was forced to retreat all along the line.
As I am now applying for admission to Germany, where the majority of the government consists of Social Democrats, I am chiefly interested in clarifying my attitude toward the Social Democracy. In this respect there has been no change. My attitude toward the Social Democracy is just what it was. More over, my struggle against the centrist faction of Stalin is only a reflection of my general struggle against the Social Democracy. Neither you nor I stand in any need of vagueness or ambiguity.
In connection with the activities of the Pravda, Joffe went to Russia for revolutionary work. He was arrested in Odessa, spent a long time in prison, and was later exiled to Siberia. He was not set free until February, 1917, as a result of the revolution of that month. In the October revolution which followed, he played one of the most active parts. The personal bravery of this very sick man was really magnificent. I can still see him in the autumn of 1919 as clearly as if it were to-day with his rather thick-set figure on the shell-ridden field below St. Petersburg. In the immaculate dress of a diplomat, with a gentle smile on his calm face and a cane in his hand, as if he were merely walking along Unter den Linden, Joffe watched the shells exploding nearby, curiously, without speeding or slowing his steps. He was a good speaker, thoughtful and earnest in appeal, and he showed the same qualities as a writer. In everything he did, he paid the most exacting attention to de tail a quality that not many revolutionaries have. Lenin had a very high opinion of his diplomatic work. For a great many years I was bound to him more closely than any one else. His loyalty to friendship as well as to principle was unequalled. Joffe ended his life tragically. Grave hereditary diseases were undermining his health. Just as seriously, too, he was being undermined by the unbridled baiting of Marxists led by the epigones. Deprived of the chance of fighting his illness, and so deprived of the political struggle, Joffe committed suicide in the autumn of 1927. The letter he wrote me before his death was stolen from his dressing-table by Stalinâ€™s agents. Lines intended for the eyes of a friend were torn from their context, distorted and belied by Yaroslavsky and others intrinsically demoralised. But this will not prevent Joffe from being inscribed as one of the noblest names in the book of the revolution.