Born on 6 June 1909 into a wealthy Russian-Jewish household, Berlin lived on the fourth floor of a building at Alberta street 2a in Rīga until the age of six, when he and his family emigrated to Russia. He claimed to have little memories of his childhood up until the move to Petrograd (present day St. Petersburg), where he received the impressions that would decide his future political convictions.
From the tall windows of his apartment on Vasileyvsky Island, the young Berlin gazed down at the progress of both the Social Democratic and the Bolshevik revolutions. Once, when taking a walk with his governess, he witnessed a Tsarist policeman being dragged by a group of lynchers. This sight, as he later recalled, gave him “a permanent horror of violence which has remained with [him] for the rest of his life”.
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