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The Promised Day Is Come

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 revised edition
  • Pages:
  • 124
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Pages 55-59

The Rise of Bolshevism

The rise of Bolshevism, born amidst the fires of that inconclusive struggle, shook the throne of the Czars and overthrew it. Alexander II Nicolaevich, whom Bahá’u’lláh had commanded in His Tablet to “arise … and summon the nations unto God,” who had been thrice warned: 56 “beware lest thy desire deter thee from turning towards the face of thy Lord,” “beware lest thou barter away this sublime station,” “beware lest thy sovereignty withhold thee from Him Who is the Supreme Sovereign,” was not indeed the last of the Czars to rule his country, but rather the inaugurator of a retrogressive policy which in the end proved fatal to both himself and his dynasty.
In the latter part of his reign he initiated a reactionary policy which, causing widespread disillusionment, gave rise to Nihilism, which, as it spread, ushered in a period of terrorism of unexampled violence, leading in its turn to several attempts on his life, and culminating in his assassination. Stern repression guided the policy of his successor, Alexander III, who “assumed an attitude of defiant hostility to innovators and liberals.” The tradition of unqualified absolutism, of extreme religious orthodoxy was maintained by the still more severe Nicolas II, the last of the Czars, who, guided by the counsels of a man who was “the very incarnation of a narrow-minded, stiff-necked despotism,” and aided by a corrupt bureaucracy, and humiliated by the disastrous effects of a foreign war, increased the general discontent of the masses, both intellectuals and peasants. Driven for a time into subterranean channels, and intensified by military reverses, it exploded at last in the midst of the Great War, in the form of a Revolution which, in the principles it challenged, the institutions it subverted, and the havoc it wrought, has scarcely a parallel in modern history.
A great trembling seized and rocked the foundations of that country. The light of religion was dimmed. Ecclesiastical institutions of every denomination were swept away. The state religion was disendowed, persecuted, and abolished. A far-flung empire was dismembered. A militant, triumphant proletariat exiled the intellectuals, and plundered and massacred the nobility. Civil war and disease decimated a population, already in the throes of agony and despair. And, finally, the Chief Magistrate of a mighty dominion, together with his consort, and his family, and his dynasty, were swept into the vortex of this great convulsion, and perished.
The very ordeal that heaped such dire misfortunes on the empire of the Czars brought about, in its concluding stages, the fall of the almighty German Kaiser as well as that of the inheritor of the once famed Holy Roman Empire. It shattered the whole fabric of Imperial Germany, 57 which arose out of the disaster that engulfed the Napoleonic dynasty, and dealt the Dual Monarchy its death blow.
Almost half a century before, Bahá’u’lláh, Who had predicted, in clear and resounding terms, the ignominious fall of the successor of the great Napoleon, had, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, addressed to Kaiser William I, the newly acclaimed victor, a no less significant warning, and prophesied, in His apostrophe to the banks of the Rhine, in words equally unambiguous, the mourning that would afflict the capital of the newly federated empire.
“Do thou remember,” Bahá’u’lláh thus addressed him, “the one [Napoleon] whose power transcended thy power, and whose station excelled thy station…. Think deeply, O king, concerning him, and concerning them who, like unto thee, have conquered cities and ruled over men.” And again: “O banks of the Rhine! We have seen you covered with gore, inasmuch as the swords of retribution were drawn against you; and you shall have another turn. And We hear the lamentations of Berlin, though she be today in conspicuous glory.”
On him who, in his old age, sustained two attempts upon his life by the advocates of the rising tide of socialism; on his son Frederick III, whose three months’ reign was overshadowed by mortal disease; and finally on his grandson, William II, the self-willed and overweening monarch and wrecker of his own empire—on these fell, in varying degrees, the full weight of the responsibilities consequent to these dire pronouncements.
William I, first German Emperor and seventh king of Prussia, whose entire lifetime had, up to the date of his accession, been spent in the army, was a militaristic, autocratic ruler, imbued with antiquated ideas, who initiated, with the aid of a statesman rightly regarded as “one of the geniuses of his century,” a policy which may be said to have inaugurated a new era not only for Prussia but for the world. This policy was pursued with characteristic thoroughness and perfected through the repressive measures that were taken to safeguard and uphold it, through the wars that were waged for its realization, and the political combinations that were subsequently formed to exalt and consolidate it, combinations that were fraught with such dreadful consequences to the European continent.
William II, temperamentally dictatorial, politically inexperienced, 58 militarily aggressive, religiously insincere, posed as the apostle of European peace, yet actually insisted on “the mailed fist” and “the shining armor.” Irresponsible, indiscreet, inordinately ambitious, his first act was to dismiss that sagacious statesman, the true founder of his empire, to whose sagacity Bahá’u’lláh had paid tribute, and to the unwisdom of whose imperial and ungrateful master ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had testified. War indeed became a religion of his country, and by enlarging the scope of his multifarious activities, he proceeded to prepare the way for that final catastrophe that was to dethrone him and his dynasty. And when the war broke out, and the might of his armies seemed to have overpowered his adversaries, and the news of his triumphs was noised abroad, reverberating as far as Persia, voices were raised ridiculing those passages of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas which so clearly foreshadowed the misfortunes that were to befall his capital. Suddenly, however, swift and unforeseen reverses fatally overtook him. Revolution broke out. William II, deserting his armies, fled ignominiously to Holland, followed by the Crown Prince. The princes of the German states abdicated. A period of chaos ensued. The communist flag was hoisted in the capital, which became a caldron of confusion and civil strife. The Kaiser signed his abdication. The Constitution of Weimar established the Republic, bringing the tremendous structure, so elaborately reared through a policy of blood and iron, crashing to the ground. All the efforts to that end, which through internal legislation and foreign wars had, ever since the accession of William I to the Prussian throne, been assiduously exerted, came to naught. “The lamentations of Berlin,” tortured by the terms of a treaty monstrous in its severity, were raised, contrasting with the hilarious shouts of victory that rang, half a century before, in the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles.
The Hapsburg monarch, heir of centuries of glorious history, simultaneously toppled from his throne. It was Francis Joseph, whom Bahá’u’lláh chided in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas for having failed in his duty to investigate His Cause, let alone to seek His presence, when so easily accessible to him in the course of his visit to the Holy Land. “Thou passed Him by,” He thus reproves the pilgrim-emperor, “and inquired not about Him…. We have been with thee at all times, and found thee clinging unto the Branch and heedless of the Root…. Open thine eyes, that thou mayest behold this Glorious Vision and recognize Him Whom 59 thou invokest in the daytime and in the night season, and gaze on the Light that shineth above this luminous Horizon.”
The House of Hapsburg, in which the Imperial Title had remained practically hereditary for almost five centuries, was, ever since those words were uttered, being increasingly menaced by the forces of internal disintegration, and was sowing the seeds of an external conflict, to both of which it ultimately succumbed. Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, a reactionary ruler, reestablished old abuses, ignored the rights of nationalities, and restored that bureaucratic centralization that proved in the end so injurious to his empire. Repeated tragedies darkened his reign. His brother Maximilian was shot in Mexico. The Crown Prince Rudolph perished in a dishonorable affair. The Empress was assassinated in Geneva. Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife were murdered in Sarajevo, kindling a war in the midst of which the Emperor himself died, closing a reign which is unsurpassed by any other reign in the disasters it brought to the nation.