Lenin's Death and Stalin's Intrigues
I CARRIED TO MOSCOW TWO LETters from Khurgin, one to Trade Commissar Leonid Krassin, the other to a Soviet newspaperman who would help me get my bearings in the Red capital. Sasha was the name this man adopted later, when, as an ardent Trotskyist, he was in danger of being purged. Since he may have escaped, I shall call him only by that nickname here. Sasha was one of the most talented and best connected newsmen in Russia. Lenin and Trotsky were both fond of him. He had an inside track to the Kremlin and could on occasion penetrate the thick mists that veiled that citadel in times of stress.
With Sasha as my guide I went the rounds of Moscow, astonished by the great change that the NEP, a comparatively free economy, had wrought in a matter of nine or ten months. It was a change from a state verging on coma to a life of cheer and rapidly growing vigor. All Moscow seemed to me to be eloquent proof of the healing powers inherent in freedom. For days at a stretch I wandered over the capital, merging with the vivid scene, glowing in its colorful atmosphere and quaint charm.