The Great Conspiracy: the secret war against soviet Russia
(by Albert E. Kahn and Michael Sayers)
None of the incidents or dialogue in The Great Conspiracy has been invented by the authors. The material has been drawn from various documentary sources which are indicated in the text or listed in the Bibliographical Notes.
Book One: Revolution and Counterrevolution
Chapter I – The Rise of the Soviet Power
1. Mission to Petrograd
IN the midsummer of the fateful year of 1917, as the Russian revolutionary volcano seethed and rumbled, an American named Major Raymond Robins arrived in Petrograd(1) on a secret mission of the utmost importance. Officially, he traveled as Assistant Chief of the American Red Cross Division. Unofficially, he was in the service of the Intelligence Division of the United States Army. His secret mission was to help keep Russia in the war against Germany.
The situation on the Eastern Front was desperate. The ill-led, wretchedly equipped Russian Army had been cut to pieces by the Germans. Shaken by the impact of the war, and rotted from within, the feudal Czarist regime had tottered and fallen. In March, Czar Nicholas II had been forced to abdicate and a Provisional Government had been established. The revolutionary cry of Peace, Bread and Land! swept across the countryside, summing up all the immediate longings and ancient aspirations of the war-weary, famished and dispossessed Russian millions.
|Britain, France and the United States – feared the collapse of the Russian Army was at hand. At any moment, a million German troops might be suddenly released from the Eastern Front and hurled against the tired Allied forces in the west|
Russia’s allies – Britain, France and the United States – feared the collapse of the Russian Army was at hand. At any moment, a million German troops might be suddenly released from the Eastern Front and hurled against the tired Allied forces in the west. Equally alarming was the prospect of Ukrainian wheat, Donets coal, Caucasian oil, and all the other limitless resources of the Russian land falling into the rapacious maw of Imperial Germany.
The Allies were striving desperately to keep Russia in the war — at least until American reinforcements reached the Western Front Major Robins was one of numerous diplomats, military men and special Intelligence officers who were being hurriedly dispatched to Petrograd to do what they could to keep Russia fighting. . . .
Forty-three years old, a man of boundless energy, extraordinary eloquence and great personal magnetism, with jet-black hair and striking aquiline features, Raymond Robins was a distinguished public figure in the United States. He had given up a successful business career in Chicago to devote himself to philanthropy and social work. In politics, he was a “Roosevelt man.” He had played a leading part in the famous “Bull Moose” campaign of 1912, when his hero, Theodore Roosevelt, had tried to get to the White House without the aid of big money or political machines. Robins was a militant liberal, a tireless and colorful crusader for every cause challenging reaction.
|“What? Raymond Robins? That uplifter? That Roosevelt-shouter? What’s he doing on this mission?” exclaimed Colonel William Boyce Thompson|
“What? Raymond Robins? That uplifter? That Roosevelt-shouter? What’s he doing on this mission?” exclaimed Colonel William Boyce Thompson, head of the American Red Cross in Russia, when he heard Robins had been appointed as his chief assistant. Colonel Thompson was a Republican and a standpatter. He had a considerable personal stake in Russian affairs – in Russian manganese and copper mines. But Colonel Thompson was also a realistic and clear-headed observer of facts. He had already privately decided that nothing could be achieved by the conservative approach which U. S. State Department officials were adopting toward the turbulent Russian scene.
David Francis, the American Ambassador in Russia that year, was an elderly, opinionated, poker-playing St. Louis banker and former Governor of Missouri. He cut an odd figure in the hectic atmosphere of war-torn, revolutionary Petrograd with his silver hair, his old-fashioned high stiff collars and his black cutaway coat.
“Old Francis,” a British diplomat remarked, “doesn’t know a Social Revolutionary from a potato!”
But what Ambassador Francis lacked in knowledge of Russian politics he made up for in the strength of his convictions. These he derived mostly from the lurid gossip of the Czarist generals and millionaires who flocked around the American Embassy in Petrograd. Francis was positive that the whole Russian upheaval was the result of a German plot and that all the Russian revolutionaries were foreign agents. At any rate, he thought the whole thing would soon blow over.
On April 21, 1917, Ambassador Francis had confidentially telegraphed the United States Secretary of State, Robert Lansing: –
EXTREME SOCIALIST OR ANARCHIST NAMED LENIN MAKING VIOLENT SPEECHES AND THEREBY STRENGTHENING THE GOVERNMENT; DESIGNEDLY GIVING HIM LEEWAY AND WILL REPORT OPPORTUNELY.
But the Russian Revolution, far from subsiding after the overthrow of the Czar, -was only just beginning. The Russian Army was breaking up, and nobody in Russia seemed capable of stopping it. Alexander Kerenskv, the ambitious Prime Minister of the Provisional Government, toured the Eastern Front staking eloquent speeches to the troops, assuring them that “victory, democracy and peace” were just around the corner. Unimpressed, the starved, rebellious Russian soldiers continued to desert by the tens of thousands. In ragged, filthy uniforms, they streamed endlessly through the countryside, across the rain-soaked fields and along the rutted roads, into the villages, towns and cities.(2)
In the rear, the homecoming Russian soldiers encountered the revolutionary workers and peasants. Everywhere soldiers, workers and peasants, were spontaneously forming their own revolutionary committees, or “Soviets” as they called them, and electing deputies to voice their demand for Peace, Bread and Land! at government headquarters in Petrograd. . . .
When Major Raymond Robins reached Petrograd, hungry, desperate masses of people were spread like a great dark tide over the land. The capital swarmed with soldier delegations, straight from the muddy front-line trenches, demanding an end to the war. Bread riots were occurring almost daily. Lenin’s Bolshevik Party-the organization of the Russian Communists, which had been declared illegal and driven underground by Kerensky – was rapidly growing in power and prestige.
|Raymond Robins refused to accept the opinions of Ambassador Francis and his Czarist friends as the truth about Russia.|
Raymond Robins refused to accept the opinions of Ambassador Francis and his Czarist friends as the truth about Russia. He wasted little time in the Petrograd salons, but went “into the field,” as he put it, to view the Russian scene with his own eyes. Robins believed passionately in what he called “the outdoor mind: that thing that is common in America among successful businessmen; a mind that does not take chatter; that constantly reaches out for facts.” He traveled about the country, inspecting factories, trade-union halls, army barracks and even the lice-infested trenches on the Eastern Front. To find out what was happening in Russia, Robins went among the Russian people.
All Russia that year was like a vast, turbulent debating society. After centuries of enforced silence, the people had at last found their tongues. Meetings were being held everywhere. Everyone had his say. Government officials, pro-Allied propagandists, Bolsheviks, Anarchists, Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks; all were talking at the same time. The Bolsheviks were the most popular speakers. Soldiers, workers and peasants constantly repeated what they said.
“Show me what I am fighting for,” demanded a Russian soldier at one of these hectic mass meetings. “Is it Constantinople or is it free Russia? Is it democracy or is it the capitalist plunderers? If you can prove to me that I am defending the Revolution, then I’ll go out and fight without capital punishment to force me. When the land belongs to the peasants, and the factories to the workers, and the power to the Soviets, then we’ll know we have something to fight for, and we’ll fight for it.”
Robins was in his element in this argumentative atmosphere. At home in the United States, a familiar platform figure, he had often debated with American Marxists: why not with Russian Bolsheviks? Frequently, Robins asked permission to reply to one of the Bolshevik speakers. In crowded factories and trenches, the broad-shouldered, dark-eyed American would get up and talk. Through his own interpreter, Robins told the Russian audiences about American democracy and the menace of Prussian militarism. Invariably, tumultuous applause greeted his words.
|Everywhere, Robins saw the same evidence of the confusion and helplessness of the Kerensky Government, contrasted with the organization and determination of the revolutionary Soviets.|
At the same time, Robins was not neglecting his Red Cross duties. His job was to get food to the starving cities. Down the Volga, Robins found immense stores of grain rotting in the storehouses. The grain could not be moved because there was no transport. Under the hopelessly inefficient Czarist regime, all transport had gone to pieces, and Kerensky had done nothing to remedy the situation. Robins proposed getting a fleet of barges down the Volga to ship the grain. Kerensky’s officials told him it could not be done. A peasant came up to Robins and introduced himself. He was the chairman of the local peasants’ Soviet. He told Robins that barges would be made available. Next morning the grain began to move upriver towards Moscow and Petrograd.
Everywhere, Robins saw the same evidence of the confusion and helplessness of the Kerensky Government, contrasted with the organization and determination of the revolutionary Soviets. When a chairman of a Soviet said a thing would be done, it was done. . . .
The first time Robins came to a Russian village and asked to see the local government official, the peasants had smiled at him. “Better see the chairman of the Soviet,” they told him.
“What is this Soviet?” said Robins.
“The workers’, soldiers’ and peasants’ deputies.”
“But that’s some sort of revolutionary organization,” Robins protested. “I want the civil organization – the regular civil power.”
The peasants laughed. “Oh, that! That doesn’t amount to anything. You had better see the chairman of the Soviet!”
Back in. Petrograd, after his tour of inspection, Robins made his preliminary report to Colonel Thompson. Kerensky’s Provisional Government, said Robins, was a “sort of paper-and-consent affair superimposed on top, supported by the bayonets in Petrograd and Moscow and some other places.” The real government of the country was being exercised by the Soviets. But Kerensky stood for the continuation of the war against Germany, and for that reason Robins believed he should be maintained in power. If the Allies were interested in preventing Russia from slipping into complete chaos, and so under German domination, they must use all their influence to make Kerensky recognize the Soviets and come to terms with them. The United States Government must be made fully aware of the facts before it was too late.
Robins proposed a bold undertaking: the immediate launching of a gigantic, high-pressure propaganda campaign to convince the Russian people that Germany constituted the real menace to their Revolution.
To Robins’s surprise, Colonel Thompson expressed unequivocal agreement with both his report and his proposal. He told Robins he would cable Washington outlining the propaganda scheme and asking for authority and funds to carry it out. Meanwhile, since time was precious, Robins was to go ahead and get started.
“But where’s the money coming from?” asked Robins.
“I’ll stake a million of my own money,” said Colonel Thompson.
Robins was to be free to draw up to that amount from the Colonel’s own bank in Petrograd. . . .
The main thing, said Colonel Thompson, was to keep the Russian Army on the Eastern Front and Germany out of Russia.
At the same time, the Colonel was well aware of the risks that might be involved in intervening so actively and personally in Russian affairs.
“Do you know what this means, Robins?” he said.
“I think it means the only chance to save this situation, Colonel,” Robins replied.
“No, I mean do you know what it means to you?” “What does it mean?”
“It means that if we fail, you get shot.”
Robins shrugged. “Better men, younger men, are getting shot every day on the Western Front.” He added after a pause, “Colonel, if I get shot, you’ll get hung.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re damned right,” said Colonel Thompson.'(3)
As the chill, damp autumn winds swept in from the Baltic Sea and low, rain-filled clouds hung ominously over the city, events in Petrograd were rushing towards their historic climax.
Pale and nervous, wearing his habitual closely buttoned plain brown uniform, his eyes protruding and his right arm bent at the elbow in Napoleonic style, Alexander Kerensky, Premier of the Provisional Government, paced up and down in his room in the Winter Palace.
“What do they expect of me?” he shouted at Raymond Robins. “Half the time I’m forced to talk Western European liberalism to satisfy the Allies and the rest of the time I have to talk Russian Slavic socialism to keep myself alive!”
Kerensky had reason to be perturbed. Behind his back his chief supporters, the Russian millionaires and his Anglo-French allies, were already conspiring to remove him from power.
The Russian millionaires were openly threatening that, if Britain and France refused to take action to stop the Revolution, they would call in the Germans.
“Revolution is a sickness,” Stepan Georgevitch Lianozov, the “Russian Rockefeller,” told the American correspondent, John Reed. “Sooner or later the foreign powers must intervene here, as one would intervene to cure a sick child, and teach it how to walk.”
Another Russian millionaire, Riabushinsky, declared that the only solution was “. . . for the gaunt hand of famine, of destitution of the people, to seize the false friends of the people, the democratic Soviets and Committees by the throat!”
|The British and French Governments decided to back General Kornilov.|
Sir Samuel Hoare, the chief of the British diplomatic Intelligence Service in Russia, had talked with these Russian millionaires and had then returned to London to report that military dictatorship was the best answer to the Russian problem. According to Hoare, the most suitable candidates for the post of dictator in Russia were Admiral Kolchak – who, Hoare said, was the nearest thing to an “English gentleman” he had found in Russia – and General Lavr Kornilov, the sinewy, black-goateed Cossack Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army.
The British and French Governments decided to back General Kornilov. He was to be the strong man who would at once keep Russia in the war, suppress the Revolution and protect Anglo-French financial stakes in Russia.
When Raymond Robins learned of this decision, he felt the Allies had made a grave mistake. They didn’t understand the temper of the Russian people. They were simply playing into the hands of the Bolsheviks who had prophesied from the beginning that Kerensky’s regime would turn out to be a mask behind which the counterrevolution was being secretly prepared. Major General Alfred Knox, the British Military Attaché and the chief of the British Military Mission in Petrograd, brusquely told Robins to keep his mouth shut.
The attempted Putsch took place on the morning of September 8, 1917. It began with a proclamation issued by Kornilov as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, who called for the overthrow of the Provisional Government and the establishment of “discipline and order.” Thousands of pamphlets, entitled Kornilov, the Russian Hero, suddenly appeared on the streets of Moscow and Petrograd. Years later Kerensky in his book The Catastrophe revealed that “these pamphlets were printed at the expense of the British Military Mission and had been brought to Moscow from the British Embassy in Petrograd in the railway carriage of General Knox, British military attaché.” Kornilov ordered twenty thousand troops to march on Petrograd. French and British officers in Russian uniforms marched with Kornilov’s troops.
Kerensky was aghast at the betrayal. He was still being hailed in London and Paris as a “great democrat” and “the hero of the Russian masses.” Yet here in Russia the Allied representatives were trying to overthrow him! Kerensky wondered helplessly what to do, and did nothing.
The Bolshevik-controlled Petrograd Soviet, on its own initiative, ordered an immediate mobilization. Armed workers were joined by revolutionary sailors from the Baltic fleet and soldiers from the front. Barricades and barbed-wire entanglements sprang up in the city’s streets. Artillery pieces and machine guns were rushed into position. Red Guards -workers in caps and leather jackets, armed with rifles and hand grenades – patrolled the muddy, cobbled thoroughfares.
Within four days Kornilov’s army disintegrated. The General himself was arrested by the Soldiers’ Committee which had been secretly formed within his own army. Some forty generals of the old regime, who were involved in Kornilov’s. conspiracy, were rounded up the first afternoon in Petrograd’s Astoria Hotel where they were waiting for the news of Kornilov’s success. Kerensky’s vice-Minister of War, Boris Savinkov, was forced from office by popular clamor for having participated in the conspiracy. The Provisional Government wobbled. . . .
The Putsch had resulted in the very thing it was designed to prevent: a triumph for the Bolsheviks and a demonstration of Soviet strength.
The Soviets and not Kerensky held the real power in Petrograd.
“The rise of the Soviets,” said Raymond Robins, “did the job without any force . . . this was the power that defeated Kornilov.”
Ambassador Francis, on the other hand, telegraphed the U. S. State Department:
KORNILOV’S FAILURE ATTRIBUTABLE TO BAD ADVICE, MISINFORMATION, IMPROPER METHODS, INOPPORTUNENESS. GOOD SOLDIER, PATRIOT, OTHERWISE INEXPERIENCED. GOVERNMENT WAS BADLY FRIGHTENED AND MAY PROFIT BY ITS EXPERIENCE.
Events were now moving with lightning speed. Still underground, Lenin had given a new slogan to the revolution: All Power to the Soviets! Down with the Provisional Government!
On October 7, Colonel Thompson anxiously telegraphed Washington: –
MAXIMALISTS (BOLSHEVIKS) NOW ACTIVELY SEEKING TO CONTROL ALL RUSSIAN CONGRESS OF WORKMEN’S AND SOLDIERS’ DEPUTIES MEETING HERE THIS MONTH. IF ‘THEY SUCCEED WILL FORM NEW GOVERNMENT WITH DISASTROUS RESULTS LEADING PROBABLY TO SEPARATE PEACE. WE ARE USING EVERY RESOURCE BUT MUST HAVE IMMEDIATE SUPPORT OR ALL EFFORTS WILL BE TOO LATE.
On November 3, a secret conference of the Allied military leaders in Russia was held at Colonel Thompson’s office. What was to be done to stop the Bolsheviks? General Niessel, head of the French Military Mission, angrily denounced the Provisional Government for its ineffectuality and called the Russian soldiers “yellow dogs.” At this point a Russian general strode from the room, his face red with anger.
General Knox upbraided the Americans for not getting behind Kornilov.
“I am not interested in stabilizing Kerensky and his government,” Knox shouted at Robins. “It is incompetent and inefficient and worthless. You ought to have been with Kornilov!”
“Well, General,” Robins replied, “you were with Kornilov.”
The British General flushed. “The only thing in Russia today is a military dictatorship,” he said. “These people have got to have a whip hand over them!”
“General,” said Robins, “you may get a dictatorship of a very different character.”
“You mean this Trotsky-Lenin-Bolshevik stuff -this soap-box stuff ?
“Yes, that is what I mean.”
“Robins,” said General Knox, “you are not a military man; you do not know anything about military affairs. Military men know what to do with that kind of stuff. We stand them up and shoot them.”
“Yes, if you catch them you do,” Robins replied. “I admit, General, I do not know anything about military affairs, but I do know something about folk; I have been working with them all my life. I have been out in Russia, and I think you are facing a folk situation.”
On November 7, 1917, four days after this conference in Colonel Thompson’s office, the Bolsheviks took power in Russia.
|“Robins,” said General Knox, “you are not a military man; you do not know anything about military affairs. Military men know what to do with that kind of stuff. We stand them up and shoot them.”|
The world-shaking Bolshevik Revolution came strangely, at first almost imperceptibly. It was the most peaceful revolution in history. Small bands of soldiers and sailors marched casually about the capital. There were a few, sporadic, scattered shots. Men and women gathered in the chilly streets, arguing, gesticulating, reading the latest appeals and proclamations. The usual contradictory rumors were bruited about. Streetcars rumbled up and down the Nevskv. Housewives wandered in and out of the shops. Petrograd’s conservative newspapers which came out that day as usual did not even report that a revolution had taken place.
With scarcely any opposition, the Bolsheviks occupied the Telephone Exchange, the Telegraph Office, the State Bank and the Ministries. The Winter Palace, site of Kerensky’s Provisional Government, was surrounded and besieged.
Kerensky himself fled that afternoon in a fast car borrowed from the American Embassy and flying the American flag. As he was leaving, he sent hasty word to Ambassador Francis that he would be coming back with troops from the front and “liquidate the situation in five days.”
At 6 P.M. Ambassador Francis telegraphed Secretary of State Lansing: –
BOLSHEVIKI APPEAR TO HAVE CONTROL OF EVERYTHING HERE. CANNOT LEARN WHEREABOUTS OF ANY MINISTER. . . .
Toward the middle of that raw damp night, trucks lumbered through the muddy streets, slowing down by the periodic street bonfires where sentinels stood. From out of the trucks white bundles were flung. They contained this proclamation: –
TO THE CITIZENS OF RUSSIA!
The Provisional Government is deposed. The State Power has passed into the hands of the organ of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, the Military Revolutionary Committee, which stands at the head of the Petrograd proletariat and garrison.
The cause for which the people were fighting: of immediate proposal of a democratic peace, abolition of landlord property-rights over the land, labor control of production, creation of a Soviet Government – that cause is securely achieved.
LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION OF WORKMEN, SOLDIERS AND PEASANTS!
Military Revolutionary Committee
Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies
Hundreds of Red Guards and soldiers had gathered in a dark mass around the brilliantly lit Winter Palace, the last stronghold of the members of the already nonexistent Provisional Government. Suddenly, the mass moved forward, poured across the courtyard, and swarmed over the barricades, into the Winter Palace. Kerensky’s former Ministers were arrested in the large, elaborately decorated chamber where they had been sitting all day around a long table. The table was littered with crumpled sheets of paper, the remnants of never-finished proclamations. One of them read: “The Provisional Government appeals to all classes to support the Provisional Government. . . .”
At 10:45 on the night of November 7, the All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies held its opening session in the ballroom of the Smolny Institute, which had formerly been a fashionable academy for daughters of the Czarist aristocracy. The huge, smoke-filled ballroom, with its marble columns, white chandeliers and inlaid floor, now housed the elected representatives of Russian soldiers and workers. Dirty, unshaven, weary, the Soviet deputies – soldiers with the mud of the trenches still on their uniforms, workers in their caps and black crumpled suits, sailors in their striped sweaters and small, round, beribboned hats – listened tensely as the members of the Central Executive Committee arose one after another to speak from the tribune.
The Congress lasted two days. A vast roar and tumult broke out on the evening of the second day as a short, stocky man in a baggy unpressed suit stood up on the platform, his bald head gleaming, a sheaf of papers in his hand . . .
The uproar lasted several minutes. Then, bending slightly forward, the speaker said: “We shall now proceed to construct the Socialist order!”
The speaker was Lenin.
The Congress went on to form the first Soviet Government – the Council of People’s Commissars, headed by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
The morning after the Soviet Government was formed, Ambassador Francis dispatched a note to his friend, Maddin Summers, the American Consul General in Moscow.
“It is reported,” Ambassador Francis wrote Summers, “that the Petrograd Council of Workmen and Soldiers has named a Cabinet with Lenin as Premier, Trotsky as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Madame or Mlle. Kollontai as Minister of Education. Disgusting! – but I hope that such effort will be made as the more ridiculous the situation the sooner the remedy.”
To Washington, the Ambassador cabled his opinion that the life of the new Soviet regime would be a matter of days. He urged the State Department not to recognize the Russian Government until the Bolsheviks had been overthrown and their place taken by “patriotic Russians.”. . .
That same morning, Raymond Robins entered the office of Colonel Thompson at American Red Cross headquarters in Petrograd.
“Chief,” said Robins, “we’ve got to move fast! This idea that Kerensky is going to build up an army somewhere, that the Cossacks are coming up from the Don and the White Guards coming down from Finland, is all bunk! They’ll never get here. There are too many peasants with rifles in between! No, this group that’s running the show at the Smolny is going to run it for quite a while longer!”
Robins wanted permission from his chief to go out to the Smolny right away and have an interview with Lenin. “These folks are kindly, worthy people in the main,” said Robins, referring to the Bolsheviks. “Some of us have been in politics and dealt with American political bosses, and if there is anyone more corrupt or worse in Smolny than some of our crooks, then they are some crooked, that’s all!”
| LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION OF WORKMEN, SOLDIERS AND PEASANTS!
Military Revolutionary Committee
Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’
By way of reply, Colonel Thompson showed Robins orders he had just received from Washington. He was to return at once for consultation. Personally, he agreed with Robins that the Bolsheviks represented the masses of the Russian people, and when he got back to America, he would try to convince the State Department of this. Meanwhile, Robins, promoted to the rank of Colonel, was to take over as Chief of the American Red Cross Mission in Russia. Colonel Thompson shook hands with his former assistant and wished him good luck. . . .
Robins wasted no time. He drove out to the Smolny and asked to see Lenin.
“I was for Kerensky,” said Robins frankly, “but I know a corpse when I see one and I regard the -Provisional Government as dead. I want to know whether the American Red Cross can serve the Russian people without injury to our national interests. I am against your domestic program, but it is none of my business what happens in domestic Russia. If Kornilov, or the Czar, or anyone else had the power I would be talking to him!”
Lenin took an immediate liking to the dynamic, outspoken American. He tried to explain to Robins the character of the new regime.
“They say I am a dictator,” Lenin declared. “I am for the moment. I am a dictator because I have behind me the will of the mass of the peasants and workers. The moment I cease to do their will, they will take the power from me, and I would be as helpless as the Czar.”
As for the economic aspects of Soviet rule, Lenin went on: “We are going to challenge the world with a producers’ republic. We are not putting in the Soviet anybody who simply owns stock, and simply has ownership. We are putting in the producers. The Donets coal basin will be represented by producers of coal; the railroad by producers of transportation; the postal system by producers of that communication, and so on.”
Lenin described to Robins another essential phase of the Bolshevik program: the solution of the “national question.” Under the Czar, the multiple national groups in Russia had been ruthlessly suppressed and converted into subject peoples. All of this, said Lenin, would have to change. Anti-Semitism and other such primitive prejudices exploited by Czarism to pit one group against another would have to be wiped out. Every nationality and national minority in Russia would have to be completely emancipated, given equal rights and regional and cultural autonomy. Lenin told Robins that the man who was to cope with this complex and all-important problem was the leading Bolshevik authority on the national question, Josef Stalin.(4)
Robins asked Lenin what were the chances of Russia remaining in the war against Germany?
Lenin answered with complete candor. Russia was already out of the war. Russia could not oppose Germany until a new army – a Red Army -had been formed. That would take time. The whole rotten structure of Russian industry and transport would have to be reorganized from top to bottom.
The Soviet Government, Lenin went on to say, wanted recognition and friendship from the United States. He was aware of the official prejudice against his regime. He offered Robins a practical minimum program of co-operation. In return for American technical aid, the Soviet Government would undertake to evacuate all war supplies from the Eastern Front, where they could not otherwise be prevented from falling into German hands.
Robins informed General William Judson, the American Military Attaché and chief of the American Military Mission in Russia, of Lenin’s proposal; and General Judson went to the Smolny to work out the details of the agreement. Judson had an additional request to make: the hundreds of thousands of German war prisoners in Russian hands were not to be repatriated until after the war. Lenin agreed.
General Judson promptly informed Ambassador Francis that it would be in the interest of the United States to recognize the Soviet Government.
“The Soviet is the de facto government, and relations with it should be established,” said General Judson.
But the American Ambassador had other ideas and had already conveyed them to Washington.
A few days later, a telegram arrived from Secretary of State Lansing advising Ambassador Francis that American representatives were to “withhold all direct communications with the Bolshevik Government.” The wire added pointedly: “So advise Judson.”
A second telegram, dispatched soon after, recalled General Judson to the United States.
Robins thought of handing in his resignation in protest against the State Department’s policy. To his surprise, Ambassador Francis asked him to remain at his post and maintain his contacts at Smolny.
“I think it’s unwise for you to sever your relations abruptly and absolutely – that is, I mean, to cease your visits up there,” Ambassador Francis told Robins. “Furthermore, I want to know what they are doing, and I will stand between you and the fire.”
Robins did not know it, but Ambassador Francis needed all the information he could get about the Soviet Government for special reasons of his own.
5. Secret Diplomacy
On December 2, 1917, Ambassador Francis sent Washington his first confidential report on the activities of General Alexei Kaledin, Ataman of the Don Cossacks. Francis described the General as “Kaledin, commander-in-chief of the Cossacks, numbering 200,000.” General Kaledin had organized a White counterrevolutionary army among the Cossacks in southern Russia, proclaimed “the independence of the Don,” and was preparing to march on Moscow to overthrow the Soviet Government. Secret groups of Czarist officers in Petrograd and Moscow were acting as anti-Soviet spies for Kaledin and were maintaining contact with Ambassador Francis.
At Francis’s request, a more detailed report of the strength of General Kaledin was sent to the State Department a few days later by Maddin Summers, the American Consul General in Moscow. Summers, who had married the daughter of a wealthy Czarist nobleman, was even more violently prejudiced against the Soviet regime than the Ambassador himself. According to Summers’s report to the State Department, Kaledin had already rallied to his person all the “loyal” and “honest” elements in southern Russia.
Secretary of State Lansing telegraphed the American Embassy in London recommending a secret loan to finance Kaledin’s cause. This loan, said the Secretary, was to be made through the agency of either the British or the French Government.
“I need not impress on you,” added Secretary Lansing, “the necessity of acting expeditiously and impressing those with whom you talk of the importance of it not being known that the United States is considering showing sympathy for the Kaledin movement, much less of providing financial assistance.”
Ambassador Francis was advised to use great discretion in his dealings with Kaledin’s agents in Petrograd, so as not to arouse the suspicions of the Bolsheviks.
|Secretary of State Lansing telegraphed the American Embassy in London recommending a secret loan to finance Kaledin’s cause. This loan, said the Secretary, was to be made through the agency of either the British or the French Government.|
Despite the elaborate precautions, the plot was discovered by the Soviet Government, which was keenly alert to the possibility of Allied intervention in Russia. In mid-December, the Soviet press denounced the American Ambassador for secretly plotting with Kaledin. Francis blandly denied any knowledge of the Cossack chief. . . .
“I am making a statement to press,” Francis telegraphed Secretary Lansing on December 22, “which shall forward en clair denying all connection or knowledge of Kaledin movement stating your instructions are definite and emphatic not to interfere in internal affairs stating I had observed same scrupulously.”
Isolated by Allied hostility, and too weak to face the massive German war machine alone, the Soviet Government had to protect itself as best it could. The most immediate menace was Germany.
To save the new Russia, and to gain time in which to effect essential reorganization and create a Red Army, Lenin proposed to sign an immediate peace on the Eastern Front.
“We will have to conclude peace anyway,” Lenin told his followers, after reviewing at length the appalling conditions in Russia’s transport, industry and army. “We need to grow strong, and for this time is necessary. . . . If the Germans begin to advance, we will be forced to sign any kind of a peace, only then the peace will be worse.”
On Lenin’s insistence, a Soviet peace delegation hastily left for Brest-Litovsk, headquarters of the German Eastern Army, to learn Germany’s peace terms.
On December 23, 1917, the day after the first session of the preliminary Brest-Litovsk Peace Conference, representatives of Great Britain and France met in Paris and secretly concluded an agreement to dismember Soviet Russia. The agreement was entitled L’Accord Franfais-Anglais du 23 Decembre,1917, definissant les zones d’action francaises et anglaises. According to its terms, England was to receive a “zone of influence” in Russia, giving her the oil of the Caucasus and control of the Baltic provinces; France a “zone” giving her the iron and coal of the Donets Basin and control of the Crimea.
This secret Anglo-French treaty inevitably shaped the policy, these two nations were to pursue towards Russia throughout the next several years.
1. Petrograd was the capital of Czarist Russia. The city, named after Peter the Great, was originally called St. Petersburg. It was changed to the more Russian form of Petrograd at the outbreak of the First World War. After the Bolshevik revolution, Moscow became the new capita; and in 1924, after Lenin’s death, the name of the former capital was changed to Leningrad.
2. For three years the Russian soldiers had fought with great bravery and skill against overwhelming odds. In the early months of the war, at the peak of the German aggression, the Russians had invaded East Prussia, thus drawing off two German army corps and a cavalry division, and giving Joffre the chance to close the breach at the Marne and save Paris. In its rear, the Russian Arrny had to contend with treason and inefficiency. The Minister of War, Sukhoumlinov, was a traitor, in German pay. The Czar’s court swarmed with German agents and notorious Germanophiles headed by the Czarina and her adviser, the sinister priest, Rasputin. The Russian troops were wretchedly equipped. By 1917, the Russian Army had suffered more fatal casualties than Great Britain, France and Italy combined. The losses totaled 2,762,064 killed, 4,950,000 wounded, 2,500,000 missing.
3. This dialogue between Major Robins and Colonel Thompson, as all other dialogue throughout the book is quoted directly from documentary sources which are listed in the Bibliographical Notes
4. “I first knew of Stalin,” Colonel Raymond Robins wrote the authors of this book in November 1943, “when Lenin talked to me of his plans for a Federated Socialist Soviet Republic…. He spoke of his and Stalin’s plans to unite for the common co-operation all the diverse groups in Soviet Russia, and told me that Stalin had just been elected Commissar for Nationalities. . Perhaps Stalin’s greatest historic achievement for the unity and power of the Soviet People was his matchless work as Commissar of Nationalities. His policies have largely wiped out racial, religious, national and class animosities, and given to diverse Soviet groups a unity and harmony to fight and die in defense of Leningrad, Stalingrad and the Russian Land.” In the last sentence, of course, Colonel Robins is referring to the historic part played by the Soviet people in turning back and smashing the Nazi invaders during the Second World War.
Chapter II – Point Counter Point
AROUND midnight on the freezing night of January 18, 1918, a handsome young Scot wrapped in furs groped his way by the light of a lantern across a partly shattered bridge between Finland and Russia. Civil war was raging in Finland, and rail traffic over the bridge had been interrupted. The Red Finnish Government had provided the voting Scot with an escort to take him and his luggage across to the Soviet side, where a train waited to take him to Petrograd. The traveler was R. H. Bruce Lockhart, special agent of the British War Cabinet.
A. product of the exclusive English “public school” system, Bruce Lockhart had entered the diplomatic service at the age of twenty-four. He was both handsome and intelligent, and in a short time he had made a name for himself as one of the most talented and promising young men in the British Foreign Office. At thirty, he was British Vice-Consul in Moscow. He spoke Russian fluently and was equally familiar with Russian politics and intrigue. He had been recalled to London just six weeks before the Bolshevik Revolution.
Now he was being sent back to Russia at the personal request of Prime Minister Lloyd George, who had been deeply impressed by what he had learned about Russia from the homeward bound Colonel Thompson. Robins’s former chief had fiercely denounced the Allies’ refusal to recognize the Soviet regime. Following Colonel Thompson’s conversation with Lloyd George, Lockhart had been chosen to go to Russia to establish some sort of working relations – short of actual recognition – with the Soviet regime.
But the handsome young Scot was also an agent of the British diplomatic Intelligence Service. His unofficial assignment was to exploit for British ends the opposition movement which had already arisen within the Soviet Government. . . .
The opposition to Lenin was headed by the ambitious Soviet Foreign Commissar, Leon Trotsky, who considered himself Lenin’s inevitable successor. For fourteen years, Trotsky had fiercely opposed the Bolsheviks; then, in August, 1917, a few months before the Bolshevik Revolution, he had joined Lenin’s Party and risen to power with it. Within the Bolshevik Party, Trotsky was organizing a Left Opposition to Lenin.
When Lockhart reached Petrograd at the beginning of 1918, Foreign Commissar Trotsky was at Brest-Litovsk, as head of the Soviet peace delegation.
Trotsky had been sent to Brest-Litovsk with categorical instructions from Lenin to sign peace. Instead of following Lenin’s instructions, Trotsky was issuing inflammatory appeals to the European proletariat to rise and overthrow their governments. The Soviet Government, he declared, would on no account make peace with capitalist regimes. “Neither peace nor war!” Trotsky cried. He told the Germans that the Russian Army could fight no more, would continue to demobilize but would not make peace.
Lenin angrily denounced Trotsky’s behavior at Brest-Litovsk and Trotsky’s proposals- “discontinuance of the war, refusal to sign peace, and the demobilization of the army” – as “lunacy or worse.”
The British Foreign Office, as Lockhart later revealed in his memoirs, British Agent, was extremely interested in these “distensions between Lenin and Trotsky – dissensions from which our Government hoped much.” (1)
As a result of Trotsky’s behavior, the peace negotiations at Brest-Litovsk fell through. The German High Command had not wanted to deal with the Bolsheviks in the first place. Trotsky, according to Lenin, played into the German hands and “actually helped the German imperialists.” In the midst of one of Trotsky’s speeches at Brest-Litovsk, the German General Max Hoffmann put his boot on the conference table, and told the Soviet delegates to go home.
Trotsky came back to Petrograd and dismissed Lenin’s remonstrances with the exclamation: “The Germans will not dare to advance!”
Ten days after the breaking off of the peace negotiations at Brest-Litovsk, the German High Command launched a major offensive along the entire Eastern Front from the Baltic to the Black Sea. In the south, the German hordes swarmed through the flat Ukraine. In the center, the offensive surged through Poland towards Moscow. In the north, Narva fell and Petrograd was menaced. Everywhere along the front the remnants of the old Russian Army cracked and fell to pieces.
Disaster loomed over the new Russia.
Pouring from the cities, hastily mobilized by their Bolshevik leaders, the armed workers and Red Guards formed regiments to halt the German advance. The first units of the new Red Army went into action. At Pskov, on February 23, the Germans were stopped.(2) Temporarily, Petrograd was saved.
A second Soviet peace delegation, this time without Trotsky, hastened to Brest-Litovsk.
As the price of peace, Germany now demanded domination of the Ukraine, Finland, Poland, the Caucasus and enormous indemnities of Russian gold, wheat, oil, coal and minerals.
A wave of indignation against the “German imperialist brigands” swept across Soviet Russia when these peace terms were announced. The German High Command, declared Lenin, hoped by this “robbers’ peace” to dismember Soviet Russia and smash the Soviet regime.
In Bruce Lockhart’s opinion, the only sensible thing for the Allies to do in this situation was to support Russia against Germany. The Soviet Government was making no attempt to conceal its reluctance to ratify the Brest-Litovsk Peace. As Lockhart saw it, the question the Bolsheviks were asking was: What would the Allies do? Would they recognize the Soviet Government and come to its aid, or would they let the Germans force their “robbers’ peace” on Russia?
At first, Lockhart was inclined to believe that British interests in Russia dictated a deal with Trotsky against Lenin. Trotsky and his followers were now attacking Lenin on the grounds that his peace policy had led to a “betrayal of the Revolution.” Trotsky was trying to form what Lockhart called a “holy war” bloc within the Bolshevik Party designed to gain Allied backing and force Lenin from power.
Lockhart, as he tells in his British Agent, had established personal contact with Trotsky as soon as the Foreign Commissar returned from Brest-Litovsk. Trotsky granted him a two-hour interview at his private office at Smolny. That same night, Lockhart recorded in his diary his personal impressions of Trotsky: “He strikes me as a man who would willingly die fighting for Russia provided there was a big enough audience to see him do it.”
The British agent and the Soviet Foreign Commissar were soon on intimate terms. Lockhart addressed Trotsky familiarly as “Lev Davidovich,” and dreamed, as he later said, of “pulling off a big coup with Trotsky.” But Lockhart reluctantly came to the conclusion that Trotsky simply did not have the power to replace Lenin. As Lockhart puts it in British Agent: –
Trotsky was a great organizer and a man of immense physical courage. But, morally, he was as incapable of standing against Lenin as a flea would be against an elephant. In the Council of Commissars there was not a man who did not consider himself the equal of Trotsky. There was not a Commissar who did not regard Lenin as a demi-god, whose decisions were to be accepted without question.
If anything were to be done in Russia, it would have to be done through Lenin. This conclusion, Lockhart found, was shared by Raymond Robins.
“I personally have always had a question mark over Trotsky – a question as to what he will do – a question as to where he will be found at certain tittles and places, because of his extreme ego, and the arrogance, if you please, of the ego,” said Robins.
Lockhart had met Robins shortly after his arrival in Petrograd. He was immediately impressed by the American’s forthright approach to the Russian problem. Robins had no sympathy with the various Allied arguments against recognition. He poured scorn on the absurd theory, fostered by Czarist agents, that the Bolsheviks wanted a German victory. With great eloquence, he described to Lockhart the appalling conditions in old Russia and the marvelous upsurge of the oppressed millions under Bolshevik leadership.
To complete the picture, Robins took Lockhart out to Smolny to see the new regime in action. As they drove back to Petrograd through the softly falling snow, Robins bitterly declared that the Allied Embassies, with their secret conspiracies against the Soviet Government, were only “playing the German game in Russia.”
The Soviet Government had come to stay and the sooner the Allies recognized the fact the better.
Robins frankly added that Lockhart would get a very different story from other Allied representatives and secret service agents in Russia, and these persons would produce all sorts of documentary evidence to back up their claims. “There are more forged papers of one kind or another in Russia than ever before in human history!” said Robins. There were even documents to prove that Robins himself was a Bolshevik, and, at the same time, secretly interested in getting Russian commercial concessions for Wall Street.
The two men soon became close, almost inseparable friends. They began taking breakfast together each morning and consulting each other regarding the plan of action for the day. Their common aim was to induce their respective governments to recognize Soviet Russia and so prevent a German victory on the Eastern Front.(3)
2. Zero Hour
The situation confronting the Soviet Government in the early spring of 1918 was this: Germany was preparing to overthrow the Soviet Government by force if the Russians refused to ratify the Brest-Litovsk Peace; Britain and France were secretly backing counterrevolutionary forces which were assembling in Archangel, Murmansk and on the Don; the Japanese, with Allied approval, were planning to seize Vladivostok and to invade Siberia. . . .
In an interview with Lockhart, Lenin told the British agent that the Soviet Government was to be transferred to Moscow in fear of a German attack at Petrograd. The Bolsheviks were going to fight, if necessary, even if they had to withdraw to the Volga and the Urals. But they would fight on their own conditions. They were “not to be made a cat’s-paw for the Allies.” If the Allies understood this, Lenin told Lockhart, there was an excellent opportunity for co-operation. Soviet Russia was desperately in need of aid to resist the, Germans.
“At the same time,” said Lenin grimly, “I am quite convinced that your Government will never see things in this light. It is a reactionary Government. It will co-operate with the Russian reactionaries.”
Lockhart cabled the substance of this interview to the British Foreign Office. A few days later he received a coded message from London. Hastily, he decoded and read it. The message conveyed the view of a “military expert” that all that was needed in Russia was “a small but resolute nucleus of British officers” to give leadership to the “loyal Russians” Who would soon put an end to Bolshevism.
Ambassador Francis, on February 23, had written in a letter to his son: –
My plan is to stay in Russia as long as I can. If a separate peace is concluded, as I believe it will be, there will be no danger of my being captured by the Germans. Such a separate peace, however, will be a severe blow to the Allies, and if any section of Russia refuses to recognize the authority of the Bolshevik Government to conclude such a peace, I shall endeavor to locate in that section and encourage the rebellion.
After writing this letter, Ambassador Francis had joined the French Ambassador Noulens and other Allied diplomats in the small town of Vologda, located between Moscow and Archangel.
It was clear that the Allied Governments had already decided not to co-operate in any way with the Soviet regime.
Robins discussed the crisis with Trotsky, who, having publicly admitted his “error” in opposing Lenin at Brest-Litovsk, was now trying to re-establish himself in Lenin’s eyes.
“Do you want to prevent the Brest treaty from being ratified?” Trotsky asked Robins.
“Of course!” Robins replied. “But Lenin is for it, and, frankly, Commissioner, Lenin is running this show!”
“You are mistaken,” said Trotsky. “Lenin realizes that the threat of the German advance is so great that if he can get cooperation and support from the Allies he will refuse the Brest peace, retire if necessary from both Moscow and Petrograd to Ekaterinburg, re-establish the front in the Urals, and fight with Allied support against the Germans.”
At Robins’s urgent request, Lenin agreed to draw up a formal note to the United States Government. He had little hope of a favorable response; but he was willing to make the attempt.
The note was duly handed to Robins for transmission to the United States Government. It read in part: –
In case (a) the All-Russian Congress of the Soviets will refuse to ratify the peace treaty with Germany or (b) if the German Government, breaking the peace treaty will renew the offensive in order to continue the robbers’ raid . . .
(1) Can the Soviet Government rely on the support of the United States of North America, Great Britain, and France in its struggle against Germany?
(2) What kind of support could be furnished in the nearest future, and on what conditions – Military equipment, transportation supplies, living necessities?
(3) What kind of support could be furnished particularly and especially by the United States? . . .
The All-Russian Soviet Congress was to meet on March 12 to discuss ratification of the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty.
Lenin agreed, at Robins’s request, to postpone the convening of the All-Russian Congress until March 14, giving Robins and Lockhart two extra days in which to persuade their governments to act.
On March 5, 1918, Lockhart dispatched a final, imploring telegram to the British Foreign Office pleading for recognition of the Soviet Government: “If ever the Allies had a chance in Russia since the Revolution, the Germans have given it to them by the exorbitant peace terms they have imposed on the Russians … If His Majesty’s Government does not wish to see Germany paramount in Russia, then I would most earnestly implore you not to neglect this opportunity.”
There was no reply from London, only a letter from Lockhart’s wife urging him to be cautious and warning him that the word was being spread in the Foreign Office that he had become a “Red.”.. .
On March 14, the All Russian Soviet Congress convened in Moscow. For two days and nights the delegates debated the question of ratifying the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Trotsky’s opposition was out in full force, trying to make political capital out of the unpopular Peace Treaty; but Trotsky himself, as Robins put it, was “sulking in Petrograd and refused to come.”
An hour before midnight on the second night of the Congress Lenin beckoned to Robins, who was sitting on the step below the platform.
“What have you heard from your government?
“What has Lckhart heard?”
Lenin shrugged. “I am now going to the platform,” he told Robins. “I am going to speak for the ratification of the treaty. It will be ratified.
Lenin spoke for an hour. He made no attempt to picture the peace as anything but a catastrophe for Russia. With patient logic, he pointed out the necessity for the Soviet Government, isolated and menaced from every side, to gain a “breathing space” at any cost.
The Brest-Litovsk Treaty was ratified.
A statement issued by the Congress declared: –
Under present conditions, the Soviet Government of the Russian Republic, being left to its own forces, is unable to withstand the armed onrush of German Imperialism, and is compelled, for the sake of saving revolutionary Russia, to accept the conditions put before it.
3. Mission’s End
Ambassador Francis telegraphed the State Department on May 2, 1918: “Robins and probably Lockhart also have favored recognition of Soviet government but you and all Allies have always opposed recognition and I have consistently refused to recommend it, nor do I feel that I have erred therein.”
A few weeks later Robins received a telegram from Secretary of State Lansing: “Under all circumstances consider desirable that you come home for consultation.”
As he traveled across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railroad to pick up a ship at Vladivostok, Robins received three messages from the State Department. Each of them carried the same instruction: he was to make no public statement of any kind.
Back in Washington, D.C., Robins submitted a report to Secretary Lansing, vigorously condemning the idea of any Allied intervention against Soviet Russia. Robins attached to his report a detailed written program for the development of Russian-American commercial relations. Lenin had personally handed Robins this program just before he left Moscow. It was to be given to President Wilson.
Lenin’s program never reached Wilson.
Robins himself tried to see the President, but in vain. He was blocked at every turn. He tried to get his message into the newspapers. The press either ignored or distorted what he had to say….
Robins was forced to defend himself before a Senate Committee investigating “Bolshevism” and “German Propaganda.”
“If I told the truth and did not lie and slander folks, did not say that they are German agents and thieves and murderers, criminals utterly, then I am a Bolshevist!” Robins declared. “But I had the best window or outlook of any Allied representative in Russia and I was trying to keep my feet on the ground. I would like to tell the truth about men and about movements, without passion and without resentment, even though I differed from them. . . . I am perfectly willing that the Russian people should have the kind of government they want, whether it suits me, or whether it is in accord with my principles or not. . . . I think that to know what has actually happened in Russia is of the very first moment, and for us and for our country to deal with it honestly and fairly, rather than in passion or on a statement that is not true . . . I would never expect to stamp out ideas with bayonets. . . .. The only answer for the desire for a better human iife is a better human life.”
But Robins’s honest voice was drowned in the rising tide of misinformation and prejudice.
By the summer of 1918, although the United States was at war with Germany and not with Russia, the New York Times was already describing the Bolsheviks as “our most malignant enemies,” and as “ravening beasts of prey.” The Soviet leaders were being universally denounced in the American press as “paid agents” of the Germans. “Butchers,” “assassins and madmen,” “blood-intoxicated criminals,” and “human scum” were some of the typical terms by which American newspapers referred to Lenin and his associates. In Congress, they were called “those damnable beasts.”. . .
Ambassador Francis remained in Russia until July 1918. Periodically, he issued proclamations and statements calling upon the Russian people to overthrow the Soviet Government. Just before Francis set sail for the United States, he received from Chicherin, the new Soviet Commissar of Foreign Affairs, a telegram extending greetings to the American people. Francis later related what he did with Chicherin’s message. “This telegram was evidently meant for consumption by American pacifists,” the ex-Ambassador wrote in his book, Russia from the American Embassy, “and fearing it would be given to the American people by the Department of State, I failed to transmit it.”
Bruce Lockhart stayed on in Russia. “I ought to have resigned and come home,” he said later. Instead, he remained at his post as a British agent.
“Almost before I had realized it,” Lockhart later confessed in British Agent, “I had now identified myself with a movement which, whatever its original object, was to be directed, not against Germany, but against the de facto government of Russia.”
1 At Brest-Litovsk, Trotsky, as a “world revolutionist,” objected to signing peace with Germany, even though he admitted that the Russian Army could no longer fight, on the grounds that such a peace would represent a betrayal of the international revolution. On these grounds Trotsky refused to abide by Lenin’s peace instructions. Later, Trotsky claimed that he had acted from mistaken judgment. At a Bolshevik Party meeting on October 3, 1918, after the Germans had attacked Soviet Russia and very nearly seized Petrograd and smashed the Soviet regime, Trotsky declared: “I deem it my duty to say, in this authoritative assembly, that at the hour when many of us, including myself, were doubtful as to whether it was admissible for us to sign the Brest-Litovsk peace, only Comrade Lenin maintained stubbornly, with amazing foresight and against our opposition, that we had to go through with it…. And now we must admit that we were wrong.”
Trotsky’s behavior at Brest-Litovsk was not an isolated event. While Trotsky was agitating at Brest-Litovsk, his chief personal lieutenant in Moscow, Nicolai Krestinsky, publicly attacked Lenin and spoke of waging “revolutionary war against German imperialism, the Russian bourgeoisie and part of the proletariat headed by Lenin.” Trotsky’s associate in this opposition movement, Bukharin, sponsored a resolution which was passed at a special congress of the so-called Left Communist group in Moscow and which stated: “In the interests of the international revolution, we consider it expedient to consent to the loss of the Soviet power, which has now become purely formal.” In 1923, Bukharin revealed that behind the scenes during the Brest-Litovsk crisis a plan was actually afoot among the oppositionists to split the Bolshevik Party, overthrow Lenin and establish a new Russian Government.
2. The date February 23, 1918, when the Russians stopped the Germans at Pskov, is celebrated as the birthday of the Red Army.
3. Lockhart and Robins found a valuable ally in the French officer, Captain Jean Sadoul, a former successful lawyer and Socialist deputy in Paris. Captain Sadoul served as unofficial liaison between France and the Soviet Government. He had reached exactly the same conclusions as Robins and Lockhart. His outspoken criticism of the Allied attitude towards Russia had aroused the fierce enmity of the French Ambassador Noulens, who spread the word that Sadoul, Robins and Lockhart had all turned “Bolshevik.” Noulens, a bitter reactionary who derived his political opinions from the French “200 families” and the bondholders of the Paris banks, hated the Soviet regime. He took away Sadoul’s right to communicate directly with the French Government and even intercepted Sadoul’s personal letters and messages.
To prevent Robins from influencing the American Ambassador, David Francis, records Bruce Lockhart in British Agent, Ambassador Noulens started a whispering campaign against Robins. Noulens had one of his secretaries pointedly ask in Francis’s present- , “Who is the American Ambassador in Russia-Francis or Robins?” Such maneuvers met with some success. Ambassador Francis began to mistrust Robins and to fear that Robins was trying to take his place. He even suspected Robins of having informed the Bolsheviks of his secret dealings with R II Kaledin.
Chapter III – Master Spy
1. Enter M. Massino
REVOLUTIONARY Petrograd, besieged by foreign enemies without and menaced within by counterrevolutionary plots, was a terrible city in 1918. There was little food, no heat, no transport. Ragged men and women shivered in endless breadlines on the bleak, unswept streets. The long gray nights were punctuated with the sounds of gunfire. Gangster bands, defying the Soviet regime, roamed the city, robbing and terrorizing the population.(1) Detachments of armed workers marched from building to building, searching for the hidden stores of the food speculators, rounding up looters and terrorists.
The Soviet Government had not yet established complete control. Remnants of Czarist luxury contrasted weirdly with the mass destitution. Anti-Soviet newspapers continued to appear, daily predicting the imminent fall of the Soviet regime. Expensive restaurants and hotels were still open, and catering to throngs of fashionably dressed men and women. At night, the cabarets were packed. There were drinking and dancing, and, at the crowded tables, Czarist officers, ballet dancers, famous Black Market speculators and their mistresses whispered excited rumors: The Germans are marching on Moscow! – Trotsky has arrested Lenin! – Lenin has gone insane! Wild hopes and lies flowed as freely as the vodka. Intrigue thrived. . . .
A certain M. Massino had shown up in Petrograd that spring. He described himself as “a Turkish and Oriental merchant.” He was a pale, long-faced, somber-looking man in his early forties, with a high, sloping forehead, restless dark eyes and sensual lips. He walked with an erect, almost military carriage, and with a rapid, curiously silent step. He seemed to be wealthy. Women found him attractive. Amid the uneasy atmosphere of the temporary Soviet capital, M. Massino went about his business with a peculiar aplomb.
At evenings, M. Massino was a frequent visitor to the small, smoky Balkov Cafe, a favorite haunt of anti-Soviet elements in Petrograd. The proprietor, Serge Balkov, greeted him deferentially. In a private room at the back of the cafe, M. Massino met mysterious men and women who spoke to him in low tones. Some of them addressed him in Russian, others in French or English. M. Massino was familiar with many languages. . . .
The young Soviet Government was struggling to bring order out of chaos. Its colossal organizational tasks were still further complicated by the ever-present, deadly menace of the counterrevolution. “The bourgeoisie, the landlords and all the wealthy classes are making desperate efforts to undermine the revolution,” wrote Lenin. A special Soviet counter-sabotage and counterespionage organization was set up, at Lenin’s recommendation, to deal with domestic and foreign enemies. It was called the Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counterrevolution and Sabotage. Its Russian initials spelled the word: Cheka(2) . .
In the summer of 1918, when the Soviet Government, fearing German attack, moved to Moscow, M. Massino followed it. But in Moscow the appearance of the suave, wealthy Levantine merchant oddly changed. He wore a leather jacket and the peaked cap of a worker. He visited the Kremlin. Stopped at the gates by one of the young Communist Lettish Guards, who formed the elite corps guarding the Soviet Government, the erstwhile M. Massino produced an official Soviet document. It identified him as Sidney Georgevitch Relinsky, an agent of the Criminal Division of the Petrograd Cheka.
“Pass Comrade Relinsky!” said the Lettish guard.
In another part of Moscow, in the luxurious apartment of the popular ballet dancer Dagmara K., M. Massino, alias Comrade Relinsky of the Cheka, was known as Monsieur Constantine, an agent of the British Secret Service.
At the British Embassy, Bruce Lockhart knew his real identity: “Sidney Reilly, the mystery man of the British Secret Service and known . . . as the master spy of Britain.”
2. Sidney Reilly
Of all the adventurers who emerged from the political underworld of Czarist Russia during the First World War to lead the great crusade against Bolshevism none was more colorful and extraordinary than Captain Sidney George Reilly of the British Secret Service. “A man cast in the Napoleonic mold!” exclaimed Bruce Lockhart, whom Reilly was to involve in one of the most dangerous and fantastic undertakings in European history.
Just how Reilly first came to the British Secret Service remains one of the many mysteries surounding that very mysterious and powerful espionage apparatus. Sidney Reilly was born in Czarist Russia. The son of an Irish sea captain and a Russian woman, he grew up in the Black Sea port of Odessa. Prior to the First World War, he was employed by the great Czarist naval armaments concern of Mandrochovitch and Count Tchubersky in St. Petersburg. Even then, his work was of a highly confidential character. He served as liaison between the Russian firm and certain German industrial and financial interests, including the famous Hamburg shipyards of Bluhm and Voss. Just before the outbreak of the First World War, valuable information concerning the German submarine and shipbuilding program began regularly reaching the British Admiralty in London. The source of this information was Sidney Reilly.
In 1914, Reilly showed up in Japan as the “confidential representative” of the Banque Russo-Asiatique. From Japan he traveled to the United States, where he conferred with American bankers and munition manufacturers. Already, in the files of the British Secret Service, Sidney Reilly was listed under the code name, I Esti, and was known as a secret agent of great daring and resourcefulness.
A fluent linguist, with a command of seven languages, Reilly was soon summoned from the United States for important work in Europe. In 1916, he crossed the Swiss frontier into Germany. Posing as a German naval officer, he penetrated the German Admiralty. He secured and delivered back to London a copy of the official German Naval Intelligence Code. It was probably the greatest secret service coup of the First World War….
Early in 1918, Captain Reilly was transferred to Russia as Director of British Secret Intelligence operations in that country. His many personal friends, wide business connections and intimate knowledge of the inner circles of the Russian counterrevolution, made him an ideal man for the job. But the Russian assignment also had a deep personal significance for Reilly. He was consumed by a bitter hatred for the Bolsheviks and, indeed, for the entire Russian Revolution. He frankly stated his counterrevolutionary aims: –
“The Germans are human beings. We can afford to be even beaten by them. Here in Moscow there is growing to maturity the arch-enemy of the human race. If civilization does not move first and crush the monster, while yet there is time, the monster will finally overwhelm civilization.”
In his reports to the British Secret Service headquarters in London, Reilly repeatedly advocated an immediate peace with Germany and an alliance with the Kaiser against the Bolshevik menace.
“At any price,” he declared, “this foul obscenity which has been born in Russia must be crushed out of existence. Peace with Germany: Yes, peace with Germany, peace with anybody! There is only one enemy. Mankind must unite in a holy alliance against this midnight terror!”
On his arrival in Russia, Reilly immediately plunged into anti-Soviet conspiracy.
His avowed aim was to overthrow the Soviet Government.(3)
3. Money and Murder
The numerically strongest anti-Bolshevik political party in Russia in 1918 was the Social Revolutionary Party, which advocated a form of agrarian socialism. Led by Boris Savinkov, Kerensky’s one-time war minister who had taken part in the abortive Kornilov Putsch, the militant Social Revolutionaries had become the pivot of anti-Bolshevik sentiment. Their extremist methods and propaganda had attracted considerable support for them among the many anarchistic elements which generations of Czarist oppression had bred in Russia. The Social Revolutionaries had long practised terrorism as a weapon against the Czar. Now they prepared to turn the same weapon against the Bolsheviks.
The Social Revolutionaries were receiving financial aid from the French Intelligence Service. With funds personally handed to him by the French Ambassador Noulens, Boris Savinkov had re-established the old Social Revolutionary terrorist center in Moscow under the title of League for the Regeneration of Russia. Its aim was to plan the assassination of Lenin and other Soviet leaders. On Sidney Reilly’s recommendation, the British Secret Service also began supplying Savinkov with money for the training and arming of his terrorists.
But Reilly, an ardent pro-Czarist, did not trust the Social Revolutionaries when it came to forming a new Russian Government to replace the Soviet regime. Apart from Savinkov, whom he regarded as completely reliable, Reilly felt that the leftist Social Revolutionaries represented a dangerously radical force. Some of them were known to be linked with the oppositionist Bolsheviks who followed Trotsky. Reilly was prepared to use these people for his own purposes, but he was determined to stamp out radicalism in Russia. He wanted a military dictatorship as the first step to the restoration of Czarism. Accordingly, while he continued to finance and encourage the Social Revolutionary terrorists and other radical anti-Soviet groups, the British spy was at the same time carefully building a conspiratorial apparatus of his own. Reilly himself later revealed in his memoirs how it functioned: –
It was essential that my Russian organization should not know too much, and that no part of it should be in a position to betray another. The scheme was accordingly arranged on the “Fives” system, and each participant knew another four persons only. I myself, who was at the summit of the pyramid knew them all, not personally, but by name and address only, and very useful was I to find the knowledge afterwards. .Thus, if anything were betrayed, everybody would not be discovered, and the discovery would be localized.
Linking up with the Union of Czarist Officers, with remnants of the old Czarist secret police, the sinister Ochrana, with Savinkov’s terrorists, and with similar counterrevolutionary elements, Reilly’s apparatus soon mushroomed throughout Moscow and Petrograd. A number of Reilly’s former friends and acquaintances from Czarist days joined him and proved of great value. These friends included Count Tchubersky, the naval armaments magnate who had once employed Reilly as a liaison with the German shipyards; the Czarist General Yudenitch; the Petrograd cafe proprietor, Serge Balkov; the ballet dancer, Dagmara, at whose apartment Reilly set up his Moscow headquarters; Grammatikov, a wealthy lawyer and former undercover agent of the Ochrana, who now became Reilly’s chief contact with the Social Revolutionary Party; and Veneslav Orlovsky, another former Ochrana agent, who had contrived to become a Cheka official in Petrograd, and from whom Reilly obtained the forged Cheka passport under the name of Sidney Georgevitch Relinsky, which enabled him to travel freely anywhere in Soviet Russia.
These and other agents, who even penetrated into the Kremlin and Red Army General Staff, kept Reilly fully informed of every measure of the Soviet Government. The British spy was able to boast that sealed Red Army orders “were being read in London before they were opened in Moscow.”
Large sums of money to finance Reilly’s operations, amounting to several millions of rubles, were hidden in the Moscow apartment of the ballet dancer, Dagmara. In raising these funds, Reilly drew on the resources of the British Embassy. The money was collected by Bruce Lockhart and conveyed to Reilly by Captain Hicks of the British Secret Service. Lockhart, whom Reilly involved in this business, subsequently revealed in his British Agent how the money was collected: –
There were numerous Russians with hidden stores of roubles. They were only too glad to hand them over in exchange for a promissory note on London. To avoid all suspicion, we collected the roubles through an English firm in Moscow. They dealt with the Russians, fixed the rate of exchange, and have the promissory note. In each transaction we furnished the English firm with an official guarantee that it was good for the amount in London. The roubles were brought to the American Consulate-General, and were handed over to Hicks, who conveyed them to their destined quarters.
Finally, overlooking no detail, the British spy even drew up a detailed plan for the government that was to take power as soon as the Soviet Government was overthrown. Reilly’s personal friends were to play an important part in the new regime: –
All arrangements had been made for a provisional government. My great friend and ally Grammatikov was to become Minister of the Interior, having under his direction all affairs of police and finance. Tchubersky, an old friend and business associate of mine, who had become head of one of the greatest mercantle houses in Russia, was to become Minister of Communications. Yudenitch, Tchubersky and Grammatikov would constitute a provisional government to suppress the anarchy which would almost inevitably follow from such a revolution.
The first blows of the anti-Soviet campaign were struck by Savinkov’s terrorists.
On June 21, 1918, as he was leaving a workers’ meeting at the Obuchov factory in Petrograd, the Soviet Commissar for Press Affairs, Volodarsky, was assassinated by a Social Revolutionary terrorist. This was followed within two weeks by the assassination of the German Ambassador Mirbach in Moscow on July 6. The aim of the Social Revolutionaries was to strike terror in the Bolshevik ranks and simultaneously to precipitate a German attack which they believed would spell the doom of Bolshevism.(4)
On the day on which the German Ambassador was murdered, the Fifth All-Russian Congress of Soviets was in session in the Opera House in Moscow. Allied observers sat in the gilded boxes listening to the speeches of the Soviet delegates. There was an air of tension about the proceedings. Bruce Lockhart, sitting in a box with a number of other Allied agents and diplomats, knew that something eventful had occurred when Sidney Reilly entered. The British spy looked pale and agitated. In hurried whispers he told Lockhart what had happened.
The shot that killed Mirbach was to have been a signal for a general Social Revolutionary rising, backed by dissident Bolshevik elements, throughout the country. Social Revolutionary gunmen were to have raided the Opera House and arrested the Soviet delegates. But something had gone wrong. The Opera House was now surrounded by Red Army soldiers. There was firing in the streets, but it was clear that the Soviet Government had the situation in hand.
As Reilly spoke, he was examining his pockets for compromising documents. He found one, tore it into shreds and swallowed the pieces. A French secret agent, sitting beside Lockhart, proceeded to do the same thing.
A few hours later, a speaker rose on the stage of the Opera House and announced that an anti-Soviet Putsch, designed to overthrow the Soviet Government by force of arms, had been swiftly put down by the Red Army and the Cheka. There had been no public support for the putschists whatsoever. Scores of Social Revolutionary terrorists, armed with bombs, rifles and machine guns, had been rounded up and arrested. Many of them had been killed. Their leaders were either dead, in hiding or in flight.
The Allied representatives in the Opera House were told they could now safely return to their respective embassies. The streets were safe.
Later the news came that an uprising at Yaroslav, timed to coincide with the Moscow Putsch, had also been put down by the Red Army. The Social Revolutionary leader, Boris Savinkov, who had personally led the Yaroslav uprising, had narrowly escaped capture by the Soviet troops.
Reilly was bitterly angry and disappointed. The Social Revolutionaries had acted with characteristic impatience and stupidity! Nevertheless, he declared, there was nothing wrong with their basic idea of starting a coup at a moment when most of the Soviet leaders were assembled in one place attending some congress or convention. The thought of seizing all the chief Bolsheviks at one swoop appealed to Reilly’s Napoleonic imagination. . . .
He began seriously to plan to accomplish this.
4. The Lettish Plot
During the climactic month of August 1918, the secret plans for Allied intervention in Russia flared into the open. On August 2, British troops disembarked at Archangel with the proclaimed purpose of preventing “war supplies from falling into the hands of the Gem mans.” On August 4 the British seized the oil center of Baku in the Caucasus. A few days later, British and French contingents landed at Vladivostok. They were followed on August 12 by a Japanese division, and on August 15 and 16 by two American regiments recently transferred from the Philippines.
Large sections of Siberia were already in the hands of antiSoviet forces. In the Ukraine, the Czarist General Krasnov, supported by the Germans, was waging a bloody anti-Soviet campaign. At Kiev, the German puppet Hetman Skoropadsky had initiated wholesale massacres of Jews and Communists.
From north, south, east and west, the enemies of the new Russia were preparing to converge on Moscow.
The few remaining Allied representatives in Moscow began to make preparations for their departure. They did not inform the Soviet Government that they were doing so. As Bruce Lockhart later wrote in British Agent: “It was an extraordinary situation. There had been no declaration of war, yet fighting was proceeding on a front stretching from the Dvina to the Caucasus.” And Lockhart added: “I had several discussions with Reilly, who had decided to remain on in Moscow after our departure.”
On August 15, the day the Americans landed at Vladivostok, Bruce Lockhart received an important visitor. The scene was later described by Lockhart in his memoirs. He was lunching in his apartment, near the British Embassy, when the bell rang and his servant announced that “two Lettish gentlemen” wished to see him. One was a short, sallow-faced youth called Smidhen. The other, a tall, powerfully built man with clear-cut features and hard, steely eyes, introduced himself as “Colonel” Berzin, the commander of the Lettish Kremlin Guard.
The visitors brought Lockhart a letter from Captain Cromie, the British Naval Attaché in Petrograd, who was extremely active in anti-Soviet conspiracy. “Always on my guard against agents-provocateurs,” records Lockhart, “I scrutinized the letter carefully. It was unmistakably from Cromie.” Lockhart asked his visitors what they wanted.
Colonel Berzin, who had introduced himself as the commander of the Kremlin Guard, informed Lockhart that, while the Letts had supported the Bolshevik Revolution, they had no intention of fighting the British forces under General Poole which had recently landed at Archangel. They were prepared to talk terms with the British agent.
Before giving an answer, Lockhart talked the matter over with the French Consul General, M. Grenard, who as Lockhart records, advised him to negotiate with Colonel Berzin, but “to avoid compromising our own position in any way.” The next day, Lockhart again saw Colonel Berzin and gave him a paper saying, “Please admit bearer, who has an important communication for General Poole, through the English lines.” Lockhart then put Colonel Berzin in touch with Sidney Reilly. . . .
“Two days later,” records Lockhart, “Reilly reported that his negotiations were proceeding smoothly and the Letts had no intention of being involved in the collapse of the Bolsheviks. He out forward a suggestion that after our departure he might be able, with Lettish help, to stage a counter-revolution in Moscow.”
Towards the end of August, 1918, a small group of Allied representatives gathered for a confidential conference in a room at the American Consulate General in Moscow. They chose the American Consulate General because all other ‘foreign centers were under close Soviet supervision. In spite of the American landings in Siberia, the Soviet Government still maintained a friendly attitude toward the United States. Throughout Moscow, placards presenting Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points were prominently displayed. An editorial in Izvestia had stated that “only the Americans know how to treat the Bolsheviks decently.” The legacy of Raymond Robins’s mission was not altogether spent.
The gathering at the American Consulate General was presided over by the French Consul Grenard. The British were represented by Reilly and by Captain George Hill, a British Intelligence officer who had been delegated to work with Reilly. A number of other Allied diplomatic and secret service agents were present, including the French newspaperman Rene Marchand, the Moscow correspondent of the Paris Figaro.
Sidney Reilly had called the meeting, according to his own account in his memoirs, to report on the progress of his anti-Soviet operations. He informed the Allied representatives that he had “bought Colonel Berzin, the commander of the Kremlin Guard.” The Colonel’s price had been “two million roubles.” An advance of 500,000 rubles in Russian currency had been paid to Colonel Berzin by Reilly; the remainder of the sum was to be paid in English pounds when Colonel Berzin had rendered certain services and had escaped to the British lines in Archangel.
“Our organization is now immensely strong,” declared Reilly. “The Letts are on our side, and the people will be with us the moment the first blow is struck!”
Reilly then announced that a special meeting of the Bolshevik Central Committee was to be held at the Moscow Grand Theater on August 28. It would bring together in the same building all the key leaders of the Soviet state. Reilly’s plot was bold but simple. . . .
In the course of their regular duty, the Lettish Guards would be stationed at all the entrances and exits of the theater during the Bolshevik meeting. Colonel Berzin would choose for the occasion men “absolutely faithful and devoted to our cause.” At a given signal, Berzin’s guards would close the doors and cover all the people in the theater with their rifles. Then a “special detachment” consisting of Reilly himself and his “inner circle of conspirators” would leap on the stage and arrest the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party!
Lenin and the other Soviet leaders would be shot. Before their execution, however, they would be publicly paraded through the streets of Moscow “so that everyone should be aware that the tyrants of Russia were prisoners!”
With Lenin and his associates out of the way, the Soviet regime would collapse like a house of cards. There were “60,000 officers” in Moscow, said Reilly, “who were ready to mobilize immediately the signal was given,” and form an army to strike within the city while the Allied forces attacked from without. The man to head this secret anti-Soviet army was the “wellknown Czarist officer, General Yudenitch.” A second army under “General” Savinkov would assemble in north Russia and “what remained of the Bolsheviks would be crushed between an upper and nether millstone.”
This was Reilly’s plot. It had the backing of both the British and the French Intelligence Services. The British were in close touch with General Y udenitch and were preparing to supply him with arms and equipment. The French were backing Savinkov.
The Allied representatives gathered at the American Consulate General were told what they could do to help the conspiracy by espionage, propaganda and by arranging for the blowing-up of vital railroad bridges around Moscow and Petrograd in order to cut off the Soviet Government from any aid which the Red Army might try to bring from other sections of the country. . . .
As the day of the armed coup drew near, Reilly, was meeting regularly with Colonel Berzin, carefully working out every last detail of the plot and making preparations for all possible exigencies. They were drawing up the final plans when they learned that the meeting of the Bolshevik Central Committee had been postponed from August 28 until September 6. “I don’t mind that,” Reilly told Berzin. “It gives me more time to make my final arrangements.” Reilly decided to go to Petrograd to make a last-minute check-up on the apparatus in that city.
A few nights later, traveling by train on the forged passport which identified him as Sidney Georgevitch Relinsky, agent of the Cheka, Reilly left Moscow for Petrograd.
5. Exit Sidney Reilly
In Petrograd, Reilly went straight to the British Embassy to report to Captain Cromie, the British Naval Attaché. Reilly quickly outlined the situation in Moscow, and explained the plan for the uprising. “Moscow is in our hands!” he said. Cromie was delighted. Reilly promised to write out a full report for secret dispatch to London.
The following morning Reilly began getting in touch with the leaders of his Petrograd apparatus. At noon he telephoned the former Ochrana agent, Grammatikov.
Grammatikov’s voice sounded hoarse and unnatural. “Who is it?” he asked.
“It’s I, Relinsky,” said Reilly.
“Who?” asked Grammatikov.
Reilly repeated his pseudonym.
“I have somebody with me who has brought bad news,” Grammatikov said abruptly. “The doctors have operated too early. The patient’s condition is serious. Come at once if you wish to see me.”
Reilly hurried to Grammatikov’s house. He found Grammatikov feverishly emptying his desk drawers and burning papers in the fire grate.
“The fools have struck too early!” Grammatikov exclaimed as soon as Reilly entered the room. “Uritsky is dead, assassinated in his office this morning at eleven o’clock!”
As he spoke, Grammatikov went on tearing up papers and burning the pieces. “It is a terrible risk our staying here. I am, of course, already under suspicion. If anything is discovered before anything else it will be your name and mine.”
Calling Captain Cromie at the British Embassy, Reilly learned he already knew about the assassination. Uritsky, the head of the Petrograd Cheka, had been shot by a Social Revolutionary terrorist. Everything, however, was in order at Cromie’s end. Guardedly, Reilly suggested they meet at the “usual rendezvous.” Cromie understood. The “usual rendezvous” was the Balkov Cafe.
Reilly spent the intervening time destroying various incriminating and unnecessary documents, and carefully, hiding his codes and other papers. . . .
Cromie did not show up at the cafe. Reilly decided to risk a visit to the British Embassy. As he left, he whispered a warning to Balkov. “Something may, have gone wrong. Be prepared to leave Petrograd and slip across the frontier into Finland. . . .”
In the Vlademirovsky Prospect, Reilly saw men and women running. They, dove into doorways and side streets. There was the roar of powerful engines. A car shot by, crammed with Red Army men, then another, and another.
Reilly, quickened his pace. He was almost running when he rounded the corner onto the street where the British Embassy was situated. He stopped abruptly,. In front of the Embassy lay several bodies. They were dead Soviet police officials. Four cars were drawn up opposite the Embassy, and across the street was a double cordon of Red Army men. The Embassy door had been battered off its hinges.
“Well, Comrade Relinsky, have you come to see our carnival?”
Reilly spun around to see a young grinning Red Army soldier whom he had met several times in his guise of Comrade Relinskv of the Cheka. “Tell me, comrade, what has happened?” Reilly asked hastily.
“The Cheka were looking for someone called Sidney Reilly,” replied the soldier.
Later Reilly learned what had happened. Following the murder of Uritsky, the Soviet authorities in Petrograd had sent Cheka agents to close up the British Embassy. Upstairs, the members of the Embassy staff, under the direction of Captain Cromie, were burning incriminating papers. Captain Cromie dashed downstairs and bolted the door in the faces of the Soviet secret police. They broke down the door, and the desperate British agent met them on the stairs with a Browning automatic in each hand. Cromie shot and killed a commissar and several other officials. The Cheka agents returned his fire. Captain Cromie had fallen, with a bullet through his head. . . .
Reilly spent the rest of that night at the home of a Social Revolutionary terrorist named Serge Dornoski. In the morning he sent Dornoski out to reconnoiter and learn all he could. Dornoski returned with a copy of the official Communist newspaper, Pravda. “The streets will run with blood,” he said. “Somebody has had a shot at Lenin in Moscow. Missed him unfortunately!” He handed Reilly the paper. A flaring headline told of the attempt on Lenin’s life.
On the previous evening, as Lenin was leaving the Michelson factory, where he had been speaking at a meeting, a Social Revolutionary terrorist named Fanya Kaplan had fired two shots point-blank at the Soviet leader. The bullets had been notched and poisoned. One of them had penetrated Lenin’s lung above the heart. The other had entered his neck close to the main artery. Lenin had not been killed, but his life was said to be hanging in the balance.
The gun which Fanya Kaplan had used on Lenin had been given to her by Reilly’s accomplice, Boris Savinkov. Subsequently, Savinkov disclosed this fact in his Memoirs of a Terrorist.
With a small automatic pistol strapped under his arm for use in an emergency, Reilly left immediately by train for Moscow. En route the next day, he bought a newspaper at the junction of Klin. The news was the worst possible. There was a detailed account of Reilly’s whole conspiracy, including the plan to shoot Lenin and the other Soviet leaders, to seize Moscow and Petrograd, and to set up a military dictatorship under Savinkov and Yudenitch.
Reilly read on with growing dismay. Rene Marchand, the French journalist who had been present at the meeting at the American Consulate General, had informed the Bolsheviks of everything that had transpired there.
But the final blow was yet to come.
Colonel Berzin, the commander of the Lettish Guard, had named Captain Sidney Reilly as the British agent who had tried to bribe him with an offer of two million rubles to join in a plot to murder the Soviet leaders. The Soviet press also published the letter which Bruce Lockhart had given Berzin to pass him through the British lines at Archangel.
Lockhart had been arrested in Moscow by the Cheka. Other Allied officials and agents were being rounded up and taken into custody.
All over Moscow, Reilly’s description was pasted up. His various aliases – Massino, Constantine, Relinsky – were published, together with the proclamation of his outlawry. The hunt was on.
In spite of the obvious danger, Reiliy proceeded to Moscow. He located the ballet dancer, Dagmara, at the house of a woman named Vera Petrovna, an accomplice of Lenin’s would-be assassin, Fanya Kaplan.
Dagmara told Reilly that her apartment had been raided several days before by the Cheka. She had managed to conceal two million rubles which she had in thousand-ruble notes, part of Reilly’s conspiratorial money. The Cheka agents had not arrested her; she did not know why. Perhaps they believed she would lead them to Sidney Reilly.
But with Dagmara’s two million rubles at his disposal Reilly was no easy game. Now disguised as a Greek merchant, now an ex-Czarist officer, now a Soviet official, now a rank-and-file Communist worker, he kept on the move, eluding the Cheka.
One day he met his former Moscow aide, Captain George Hill of the British Secret Service, who thus far had also managed to escape the Bolshevik net. The two agents checked lists of names and addresses. Reilly discovered that a sizable portion of his anti-Soviet apparatus was still intact. He felt there was still hope.
But unlike Reilly, Captain Hill thought the game was up. He had heard that an exchange of prisoners was being arranged between the Soviet and British Governments. The Russians were to free Lockhart and others in exchange for the safe passage home of various Soviet representatives, including Maxim Litvinov, whom the British authorities had arrested in England.
“I’m going to give myself up,” said Captain Hill, He advised Reilly to do likewise.
Reilly would not admit defeat. “I’ll get back without permission of the Redskins,” he told Captain Hill. He wagered his accomplice that they would meet in London in the Savoy Hotel two months later.(5)
Railly remained in Russia for several weeks longer, gathering espionage material and advising and encouraging the anti-Soviet elements who were still carrying on. Then, after a series of hairbreath escapes, he made his way by means of a forged German passport to Bergen, Norway. From here, he sailed for England. . . .
Back in London, Captain Reilly reported to his superiors in the British Secret Service. He was full of regrets for lost opportunities. “If Rene Marchand had not been a traitor . . . if Berzin had not shown n the white feather . . , if the Expeditionary Force had advanced quickly on the Vologda… if I Could have combined with Savinkov ..’
But of one thing Reilly was sure. The fact that England was still at war with Germany was a mistake. There must be an immediate cessation of hostilities on the Western Front and a coalition against Bolshevism. Cried Captain Sidney George Reilly: –
“Peace, peace on any terms – and then a united front against the true enemies of mankind!”
1. By firsthand investigation, Raymond Robins and Bruce Lockhart jointly established that many of these anti-Soviet gangster heads, some of whom called themselves Anarchists, were actually financed by the German Military Intelligence to provoke disorders and riots as a pretext for German intervention in Russia.
2. In 1922, the Cheka was abolished and its place taken by the OGPU (the initials of the Russian title meaning United State Political Administration). In 1934, the CGPU was replaced by the NKVD, the Department of Public Security under the Soviet Commissariat of Internal Affairs.
3. In this chapter, and elsewhere in The Great Conspiracy, the authors are making use of the picturesque story of Captain Sidney Reilly as a symbol of the activities of the western anti-Soviet coalition headed at this period by British Toryism and French reaction. While the opinions and actions ascribed to Reilly are his own, it is quite clear that Reilly himself was not in a position to originate policies, but was at this time and later merely the most resolute and audacious instrument of the anti-Soviet conspiracy directed from outside Russia.
4. The assassin of Mirbach was a Social Revolutionary terrorist named Blumkin. He gained admission to the German Embassy by posing as an officer of the Cheka come to warn Mirbach of a plot against his life. The German Ambassador asked Blumkin how the assassins were planning to act. “Like this!” cried Blumkin. He whipped out a pistol and shot the Ambassador. Blumkin escaped by leaping through the window, and was taken away in a waiting car. Some time later the assassin Blumkin became the personal bodyguard of Leon Trotsky. See page 193.
5. Following his return to England. Captain George Hill was assigned by the British Secret Service in 1919 to work as a liaison officer with the White Russian armies of General Anton Denikin during the war of intervention against Soviet Russia. Later, Captain Hill went to Work as a special agent for Sir Henri Deterding, the famous European oil magnate whose obsession was to destroy Soviet Russia and who helped finance Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. The British Government subsequently used George Hill on important “diplomatic” assignments in eastern Europe. In 1932 a book by Hill, describing some of his adventures as a spy in Soviet Russia, was published in London. Its title was Go Spy the Land, Being the Adventures of I.K.8 of the British Secret Service.
In the spring of 1945 the Churchill Government selected George Hill, who by then had risen to the position of Brigadier in the British Army, to go as a special envoy into Poland. Brigadier Hill, it was explained, was to serve as a British observer in Poland and was to report back to London on the then troubled Polish situation. The Warsaw Provisional Government, however, would not permit Brigadier Hill to enter Poland.
CHAPTER IV – Siberian Adventure
1. Aide Mémoire
ON August 2, 1918, the day British troops landed at Archangel, Major General William S. Graves of the United States Army, commander of the 8th Division at Camp Fremont, Palo Alto, California, received an urgent coded message from the War Department in Washington, D.C. The first sentence, when decoded, read: –
You will not tell any member of your staff or anybody else of the contents of this message.
The message then instructed General Graves to “take the first and the fastest train out of San Francisco and proceed to Kansas City, go to the Baltimore Hotel, and ask for the Secretary of War.”
No reason was offered to explain why the General was being summoned with such dispatch to Kansas City, and no indication of how long he would be away from his post.
General Graves, a veteran, hard-bitten soldier, was not given to asking questions which obviously were not wanted. He stuffed a few belongings into a small traveling bag. Two hours later, he was aboard the Sante Fe express speeding east from San Francisco.
When the General arrived in Kansas City he found Newton D. Baker, the Secretary of War, waiting for him at the station. The Secretary of War was in a hurry. He had to catch a train in a few minutes, he explained. Hastily, he told General Graves why he had summoned him to this mysterious meeting. The War Department had “selected” Graves to take command of an expedition of American troops which was to leave immediately for Siberia.
Secretary Baker then handed General Graves a sealed envelope, and said: “This contains the policy of the United States in Russia which you are to follow. Watch your step; you will be walking on eggs loaded with dynamite. God bless you and good-by!”
That night, alone in his hotel room in Kansas City, General Graves opened the sealed envelope. He drew out a seven-page memorandum entitled Aide Mémoire. The memorandum was without signature, but at the conclusion there appeared the words: “Department of State, Washington, D.C., July 17, 1918.”
The Aide Mémoire began with a series of broad generalizations about “the whole heart of the American people” being “in the winning of the war.” It was necessary, stated the document, that the United States “co-operate ungrudgingly” in every possible way with its allies against Germany. The Aide Memoire then reached its main subject: –
It is the clear and fixed judgment of the Government of the United States, arrived at after repeated and very searching considerations of the whole situation in Russia, that military intervention there would add to the present sad confusion in Russia rather than cure it, injure her rather than help her, and that it would be of no advantage in the prosecution of our main design, to win the war against Germany. It cannot, therefore, take part in such intervention or sanction it in principle.
This was a clear and precise statement of policy with which General Graves heartily agreed. Why then was he acing scat to command American troops on Russian territory? Puzzled, the General read on: –
Military action is admissible in Russia, as the Government of the United States sees the circumstances, only to help the Czecho-Slovaks consolidate their forces and get into successful co-operation with their Slavic kinsmen. . . .
Czechoslovaks? In Russia?
“I went to bed,” General Graves wrote later, describing the incident in his book, American Siberian Adventure, “but I could not sleep and I kept wondering what other nations were doing and why I was not given some information about what was going on in Siberia.”
Had General Graves known the answers to the questions that were keeping him awake he would have been far more perturbed that summer night in Kansas City.
2. Intrigue at Vladivostok
Under the feudal rule of the Czar, the vast and fabulouslv rich region of Siberia had remained almost entirely undeveloped. Much of the immense area stretching from the borders of Europe to the Pacific and from the Arctic to Afghanistan was completely uninhabited. Across this wild uncharted land ran the single-track Trans-Siberian Railroad, the only link between the east and the west. Whoever controlled this railroad and the territory for a few miles on either ‘side of it controlled Asiatic Russia, a sub-continent of immeasurable strategic importance and wealth.
In the midsummer of 1918, as Raymond Robins traveled eastward along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, he had seen sidetracked trainloads of Czechoslovakian soldiers. Former unwilling members of the Austro-Hungarian Army, these Czechs had deserted in large numbers to the Russian lines before the Revolution. The Imperial Russian High Command had formed them into a Czech Army fighting side by side with the Russians against the Austro-German forces. After the downfall of Kerensky, the Soviet Government had agreed, at the request of the Allies, to transport the Czech troops across Russia to Vladivostok. They were to sail from this port, circle the globe and join the Allied forces on the Western Front. More than 50,000 of these Czech soldiers were strung out along the 5000-mile stretch of railroad from Kazan to Vladivostok.
The Czech soldiers believed that they were going to fight in Europe for the independence of Czechoslovakia; but their leaders, the reactionary Czech Generals Gayda and Sirovy, had other plans. In connivance with certain Allied statesmen, these generals were planning to use the Czech troops to overthrow the Soviet Government. . . .
According to the agreement reached between the Allies and the Soviet Government, the Czechs were to surrender their arms to the Soviet authorities during their passage through Soviet territory. But on June 4, 1918, Ambassador David R. Francis had privately informed his son in a letter that he was “planning to prevent if possible” the disarming of the Czech soldiers. The American Ambassador added: –
I have no instructions or authority from Washington to encourage these men to disobey the orders of the Soviet Government, except an expression of sympathy sent out by the Department of State. I have taken chances before, however.
Acting under orders from Generals Gayda and Sirovy, the Czechs refused to surrender their military equipment to the Soviet authorities. Simultaneous outbreaks occurred all along the Trans-Siberian line. The well-trained and amply equipped Czech troops seized a number of towns where they were stationed, overthrew the local Soviets and established anti-Soviet administrations.
During the first week in July, with the aid of Russian counterrevolutionaries, General Gayda staged a coup in Vladivostok and set up an anti-Soviet regime in that city. The streets were placarded with a proclamation signed by Admiral Knight of the United States Navy, Vice-Admiral Kato of the Japanese Navy, Colonel Pons of the French Mission, and Captain Badiura of the Czechoslovak Army, who had become commandant of the occupied city. The proclamation informed the populace that the intervention of the Allied Powers was being undertaken “in a spirit of friendship and sympathy for the Russian people.”
On July 22, 1918, five days after the U. S. State Department drew up its Aide Mémoire on the need for sending American troops to Siberia to aid in the disembarkation of the Czech troops, DeWitt Clinton Poole,(1) the American Consul in Moscow, sent the American Consul at Omsk a cipher telegram which read: –
You may inform the Czecho-Slovak leaders confidentially that pending further notice the Allies will be glad, from a political point of view, to have them hold their present position. On the other hand they should not be hampered in meeting the military exigency of the situation. It is desirable first of all, that they should secure control of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and second, if this is assumed at the same time possible, retain control over the territory which they now dominate. Inform the French representatives that the French Consul General joins in these instructions.
The pretext given by the Allied Powers for invading Siberia in the summer of 1918 was that they were coming to save the Czechs from unprovoked attacks by Red Army troops and by German war prisoners armed by the Bolsheviks. Throughout that spring and summer, British, French and American newspapers were filled with sensational reports that the Bolsheviks were arming “tens of thousands of German and Austrian prisoners in Siberia” to fight against the Czechs. ‘The New York Times reported that in the city of Tomsk alone, 60,000 Germans had been supplied by the Reds with military equipment.
Captain Hicks of the British Intelligence Service, Captain Webster of the American Red Cross Mission, and Major Drysdale, the American Military Attaché at Peking, traveled to Siberia, with permission from the Soviet authorities, to investigate the charges. After weeks of careful investigation, the three men reached the same conclusion: there were no armed German and Austrian prisoners in Siberia. The charges, the three officers declared, were pure fabrication propaganda deliberately designed to involve the Allies in intervention against Soviet Russia.(2)
On August 3, 1918, British troops landed at Vladivostok.
“We are coming,” the British Government informed the Russian people on August 8, “to help you save yourselves from dismemberment and destruction at the hands of Germany. . . . We wish to solemnly assure you that we shall not retain one foot of your territory. The destinies of Russia are in the hands of the Russian people. It is for them, and them alone, to decide their forms of Government, and to find a solution for their social problems.”
On August 16, the first American detachments landed.
“Military action is admissible in Russia now,” declared Washington, “only to render such protection and help as is possible to the Czechoslovaks against the armed Austrian and German prisoners who are attacking them, and to steady any efforts at self-government or self-defense in which the Russians themselves may be willing to accept assistance.”
The Japanese landed fresh forces that same month.
“In adopting this course,” announced Tokyo, “the Japanese Government remains constant in their desire to promote relations of enduring friendship, and they affirm their policy of respecting the territorial integrity of Russia and of abstaining from all interference with her national politics.”
The Japanese soldiers in Siberia were thoughtfully provided by the Japanese High Command with little Russian dictionaries in which the word “Bolshevik,” defined as Barsuk (badger or wild beast), was followed by the notation: “To be exterminated.”
3. Terror in the East
On September 1, 1918, General Graves arrived in Vladivostok to take over command of the American Expeditionary Force in Siberia. “I landed in Siberia,” he later wrote in American Siberian Adventure, “without any preconceived ideas as to what should or should not be done. I had no prejudice against any Russian faction and anticipated I would be able to work harmoniously and in a co-operative spirit with all the Allies.”
General Graves’s instructions, as set forth in the Aide Mémoire, were to protect the Trans-Siberian Railway, to help the Czech forces disembark from Vladivostok, and to refrain from interfering in domestic Russian affairs.
He had scarcely established his headquarters when he was visited by the Czech leader, General Gayda, who proceeded to put Graves straight on the Russian situation. The Russians, said Gayda, could not be ruled “by kindness or persuasion, but only by the whip and the bayonet.” In order to save the country from utter chaos, it was necessary to wipe out Bolshevism and put a military dictator in power. Gayda said he knew just the man for the position: Admiral Alexander Vassilievitch Kolchak, an exCzarist naval commander who had come from Japan to organize an anti-Soviet army and who had already rallied considerable forces in Siberia. Meanwhile, General Graves must help the Czechs and the other anti-Soviet armies to fight the Bolsheviks.
Gayda then presented General Graves with a plan for an immediate march to the Volga and an assault on Moscow from the east. This plan, Gayda revealed, had been approved by his French and British advisers and by representatives of the U. S. State Department.
General Graves repeated the orders he had received from his Government and said he intended to stand by them. He told Gayda that as long as he was in command, no American soldiers would be used against the Bolsheviks or would interfere in any other way with internal affairs in Russia. . . .
Gayda left in a fury. A short time after, General Graves received another important visitor. This time it was General Knox, the former supporter of Kornilov and now the commander of the British forces in Siberia.
“You’re getting a reputation of being a friend of the poor,” Knox warned General Graves. “Don’t you know they’re only swine?”
General Graves had what Raymond Robins called “the outdoor mind.” He was a man who believed in finding out things for himself. He decided to secure firsthand information about the actual state of affairs in Siberia. His intelligence officers were soon traveling about the countryside and bringing back extensive and detailed reports of their observations. Before long Graves had reached the conclusion that: –
The word -‘Bolshevik,” as used in Siberia, covered most of the Russian people and to use troops to fight Bolsheviks or to arm, equip, feed, clothe or pay White Russians to fight them was utterly inconsistent with “non-interference with the internal affairs of Russia.”
By the autumn of 1918, there were already more than 7000 English troops in northern Siberia. Another 7000 British and French officers, technicians and soldiers were with Admiral Kolchak, helping him train and equip his White Russian, anti-Soviet army. Aiding the British and French were 1500 Italians. There were approximately 8000 American soldiers under General Graves’s command. By far the largest force in Siberia was that of the Japanese, who had high ambitions of taking Siberia over entirely for themselves: the Japanese soldiers numbered over 70,000. . . .
In November, Admiral Kolchak, with the aid of his British and French supporters, established himself as dictator of Siberia. The Admiral, an excitable little man, who was described by one of his colleagues as a “sick child . . . certainly a neurasthenic . . . always under another’s influence,” set up headquarters at Omsk and gave himself the title of “Supreme Ruler of Russia.” Announcing that Kolchak was the “Russian Washington,” the former Czarist Minister Sazonov promptly became Kolchak’s official representative in Paris. Paeans of praise for the Admiral sounded in London and Paris. Sir Samuel Hoare repeated his opinion that Kolchak was “a gentleman.” Winston Churchill described Kolchak as “honest,” “incorruptible,” “intelligent” and “patriotic.” The New York Times saw in him “a strong and an honest man” with “a stable and approximately representative government.”
The Kolchak regime was generously supplied by the Allies, especially by Britain, with munitions, weapons of war and funds. “We dispatched to Siberia,” General Knox proudly reported, “hundreds of thousands of rifles, hundreds of millions of cartridges, hundreds of thousands of uniforms and cartridge belts, etc. Every bullet fired against the Bolsheviks by the Russian soldiers in the course of that year was manufactured in Great Britain, by British workers, out of British raw material, and shipped to Vladivostok in British bottoms.”
A popular Russian ditty of the time went: –
Epaulettes from France,
Kolchak leads the dance!
General Graves did not share the Allied enthusiasm for the rule of Admiral Kolchak. Every day his intelligence officers brought him new reports of the reign of terror which Kolchak had instituted. There were 100,000 men in the Admiral’s army, and thousands more were being recruited on penalty of being shot. Prisons and concentration camps were filled to overflowing. Hundreds of Russians, who had had the temerity to oppose the new dictator, dangled from telegraph poles and trees along the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Many more reposed in common graves which they had been forced to dig themselves before Kolchak’s executioners had mowed them down with machine-gun fire. Rape, murder and pillage were the rule of the day.
One of Kolchak’s top aides, a former Czarist officer named General Rozanoff, issued the following instructions to his troops: –
1. In occupying the villages which have been occupied before by bandits [Soviet partisans] insist upon getting the leaders of the movement, and where you cannot get the leaders, but have sufficient evidence as to the presence of such leaders, then shoot one out of every ten of the people.
2. If, when the troops go through a town, and the population will not inform the troops, after having a chance to do so, of the presence of the enemy, a monetary contribution should be demanded from all, unsparingly.
3. The villages where the population meet our troops with arms should be burned down and all the full grown male population should be shot; property, homes, carts, etc. should be taken for the use of the Army.
Describing the officer who issued these orders, General Knox told General Graves: “Rozanoff is a bully fellow!”
Along with Kolchak’s troops, terrorist bands, financed by the Japanese, were ravaging the countryside. Their chief leaders were Ataman Gregori Semyonov and Kalmikoff.
Colonel Morrow, the commander of the American troops in the Trans-Baikal sector, reported that in one village occupied by Semyonov’s troops, every man, woman and child was murdered. The majority of the occupants, related the Colonel, were shot down “like rabbits” as they fled from their homes. Men were burned alive.
“Semenov [Semyonov] and Kalmikoff soldiers,” according to General Graves, “under the protection of Japanese troops, were roaming the country like wild animals, killing and robbing the people. . . . If questions were asked about these brutal murders, the reply was that the people murdered were the Bolsheviks and this explanation, apparently, satisfied the world.”
General Graves openly expressed his abhorrence of the atrocities which were being carried out by the anti-Soviet forces in Siberia. His attitude aroused much hostility among the White Russian, British, French and Japanese leaders.
Morriss, the American Ambassador to Japan, who was visiting in Siberia, told General Graves that the State Department had wired him that American policy in Siberia necessitated support of Kolchak. “Now, General,” said Morriss, “you will have to support Kolchak.”
Graves replied that he had received no word from the War Department directing him to support Kolchak.
“The State Department is running this, not the War Department,” said Morriss.
“The State Department,” answered Graves, “is not running me.”
Agents of Kolchak launched a propaganda campaign to undermine Graves’s reputation and bring about his recall from Siberia. Lies and rumors were widely circulated describing how the General had gone “Bolshevik,” and how his troops were aiding the “Communists.” Much of the propaganda was anti-Semitic. A typical piece stated: –
The United States soldiers are infected with Bolshevism. Most of them are Jews from the East Side of New York who constantly agitate for mutinies.
Colonel John Ward, a British M.P. who was acting as Kolchak’s political adviser, publicly declared that when he visited the headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force he found that “Out of sixty liaison officers and translators, over fifty were Russian Jews!”
Certain of General Graves’s own countrymen helped spread the same propaganda. “The American Consul at Vladivostok,” revealed General Graves, “was cabling to the State Department each day, without comment, the libelous, false, and scurrilous article:, appearing in the Vladivostok press about the American troops. These articles, and the criticism of the American troops in the United States, were built around the charge of being bolshevistic. This charge could not have been based on any act of the American troops . . . but the charge was the same that was lodged against every one in Siberia who did not support Kolchak, by Kolchak adherents, which included Consul General Harris.”
When the campaign of slander was at its height, a special messenger came to General Graves’s headquarters from General Ivanoff-Rinoff, the commander of all Kolchak’s forces in eastern Siberia. The messenger told General Graves that if he would contribute $20,000 a month to Kolchak’s army, General Ivanoff-Rinoff would arrange for the propaganda against Graves and his troops to come to an end. . . .
This General Ivanoff-Rinoff was one of Kolchak’s most savage and sadistic commanders. His soldiers in eastern Siberia slaughtered the entire male populations of villages suspected of having harbored “Bolsheviks.” They made a common practice of raping women and whipping them with ramrods. They murdered old men, women and children.
One young American officer, who had been sent to investigate the atrocities committed by Ivanoff-Rinoff, was so shaken by what he saw that after he had finished making his report to Graves, he exclaimed, “General, for God’s sake never send me on another expedition like this! I came within an ace of pulling off my uniform, joining these poor people, and helping them as best I could!”
When General Ivanoff-Rinoff was menaced by a popular uprising, Sir Charles Eliot, the British High Commissioner, hurried to General Graves to express alarm over the safety of Kolchak’s commander.
“As far as I’m concerned,” General Graves grimly told Sir Charles, “the people could bring Ivanoff-Rinoff opposite American headquarters and hang him to that telephone pole until he was dead-and not an American would turn his hand!”
In the midst of this ever-spreading civil war and intervention in Siberia and throughout Soviet Russia, startling events occurred in Europe. On November 9, 1918, German sailors mutinied at Kiel, killed their officers and hoisted the Red flag. Mass peace demonstrations swept Germany. On the Western Front, Allied and German soldiers fraternized in no-man’s land. The German High Command sued for an armistice. Kaiser Wilhelm II fled to Holland, surrendering his imperial sword at the frontier to a surprised young Dutch border guard. On November 11, the Armistice was signed. . . .
The First World War was over.
1. DeWitt Clinton Poole later became Chief of the State Department’s Russian Affairs Division.
2. The findings of Captain Hicks, Captain Webster and Major Drysdale were kept from the British and American publics. Captain Hicks received a curt order to return to London, and then was assigned to work with Captain Sidney Reilly. The U. S. State Department shelved the reports of Captain Webster and Major Drysdale.
CHAPTER V – Peace and War
1. Peace in the West
The First World War had ended abruptly. As the German officer, Captain Ernst Roehm, said: “Peace broke out.” Soviets were set up in Berlin; Hamburg and throughout Bavaria. Workers demonstrated for peace and democracy in the streets of Paris, London and Rome. Revolution gripped Hungary. The Balkans were seething with peasant discontent. After the terrible four years’ war, passionate vows were on all men’s lips: No more [Var! Nie Wieder Krieg! Jamais plus de guerre! Never Again!
“The whole of Europe is filled with the spirit of revolution,” David Lloyd George was to tell the Paris Peace Conference in his confidential Memorandum of March 1919. “There is a deep sense not only of discontent, but of anger and revolt, amongst the workmen against pre-war conditions. The whole existing order in its political, social and economic aspects is questioned by the masses of the population from one end of Europe to the other.”
Two names summed up the aspirations of the masses and the fears of the few: Lenin and Wilson. In the East, Lenin’s revolution had swept away Czarism and opened a new era to the oppressed millions of the old Russian Imperial domains. In the West, Woodrow Wilson’s dryly phrased Fourteen Points had stirred up a ferment of democratic hope and expectancy.
When the President of the United States stepped onto the blood-soaked soil of Europe in December 1918, happy crowds rushed to kiss his hands and to fling flowers at his feet. The President of the New World was greeted by the people of the Old World as “King of Humanity” – “Savior” – “Prince of Peace.” They believed that the tall, thin professor from Princeton was the Messiah come to herald a new great age.
Ten million men had died in battle; twenty million were crippled and maimed; thirteen million civilians were dead of famine and plague; millions more wandered destitute and homeless amid the smoking ruins of Europe. But now at last the war was over, and the world listened to words of peace.
“My conception of the League of Nations is just this – that it shall operate as the organized moral force of men throughout the world,” said Woodrow Wilson.(1)
Early in January, 1919, the Big Four – Woodrow Wilson, David Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau and Vittorio Orlando — sat down in a conference room at the Quai D’Orsay in Paris to talk about world peace.
But one sixth of the earth was not represented at the Peace Conference.
Even as the peacemakers talked, tens of thousands of Allied soldiers were waging a bloody, undeclared war against Soviet Russia. Side by side with the counterrevolutionary White Armies led by Kolchak and Denikin, the Allied troops were fighting the young Red Army on an immense battlefront that stretched from the bleak arctic regions to the Black Sea, and from the Ukrainian wheatfields to the mountains and steppes of Siberia.
A violent and fantastic campaign of anti-Soviet propaganda was sweeping Europe and America in the spring of 1919. The London Daily Telegraph reported a “reign of terror” in Odessa accompanied by a “free love week.” The New York Sun headlined: “U. S. Wounded Mutilated by Reds with Axes.” The New York Times reported: “Russia Under Reds a Gigantic Bedlam . . . Escaped Victims say. maniacs Stalk Raving through the streets of Moscow . . . Fight Dogs for Carrion.” The entire world press, Allied and German alike, published fraudulent “authentic documents” showing that in Russia “young women and girls of the bourgeois classes” were being “commandeered and delivered to the barracks . . . for the needs of artillery regiments!”
Factual reports on the true conditions in Russia, whether they came from journalists, secret agents, diplomats or even generals like Judson and Graves, were suppressed or ignored. Anyone who dared to question the anti-Soviet campaign was automatically denounced as a “Bolshevik.”
Scarcely two months after the Armistice, the Allied leaders seemed already to have forgotten the purpose for which the great conflict was fought. The “menace of Bolshevism” swept aside every other consideration. It dominated the Paris Peace Conference.
Marshal Foch, the French Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies, appeared before a secret session of the Peace Conference to demand a quick settlement with Germany, so that the Allies could hurl their combined resources against Soviet Russia. The French Marshal pleaded the case of France’s mortal enemy, Germany.
“The present difficult situation of the German Government is well known,” said Foch. “At Mannheim, Carlsruhe, Baden and Dusselderf, the Soviet movement is rapidly extending. At the present moment Germany will therefore accept any terms the Allies might demand. The German Government only asks peace. That is the only thing that will satisfy the people and enable the Government to master the situation.”
To put down the German revolution, the German High Command was to be permitted to retain an army of 100,000 officers and men, as well as the so-called “Black Reichswehr” composed of the most highly trained and indoctrinated soldiers in Germany. In addition, the German High Command was allowed to subsidize underground nationalist leagues and terrorist societies to kill, torture and intimidate the insurgent German democrats. All of this was done in the name, of “saving Germany from Bolshevism.” . . .(2)
General Max Hoffmann, former Commander of the German Armies on the Eastern Front and the “hero” of Brest-Litovsk, approached his recent enemy, Marshal Foch, with a Plan whereby the German Army was to march on Moscow and annihilate Bolshevisin “at its source.” Foch approved the Plan, but proposed that the French Army, instead of the German, should spearhead the attack. Foch wanted to mobilize the whole of eastern Europe against Soviet Russia.
“In Russia at the present moment Bolshevism and complete anarchy reign,” Foch told the Paris Peace Conference. “My plan would be to settle all the important outstanding questions on the Western side in order to enable the Allies to use the resources thus made available for the solution of the Eastern question. . . . Polish troops would be quite able to face the Russians, provided the former are strengthened by the supply of modern appliances and engines of war. Great numbers are required, which could be obtained by mobilizing the Finns, Poles, Czechs, Rumanians and Greeks, as well as the Russian pro-Ally elements still available. . . . If this is done, 1919 will see the end of Bolshevism!”
Woodrow Wilson wanted a fair deal for Russia. The President of the United States recognized the absurdity of talking about world peace when one sixth of the earth was excluded from the conversations. Wilson urged the Peace Conference to invite Soviet delegates to come and sit down with the Allies in an attempt to reach a peaceful understanding. Again and again, Wilson returned to this idea, striving to banish the specter of Bolshevism from the minds of the peacemakers.
“There is throughout the world a feeling of revolt against the large vested interests which influence the world both in the economic and political spheres,” Wilson warned the Council of Ten at one of the secret peace meetings in Paris. “The way to cure this domination is, in my opinion, constant discussion and a slow process of reform; but the world at large has grown impatient of delay. There are men in the United States of the finest temper, if not delay. the finest judgment, who are in sympathy with Bolshevism because it appears to them to offer that regime of opportunity to the individual which they desire to bring about.”
But Woodrow Wilson was surrounded by men determined at all costs to preserve the status quo. Bound by their secret imperialist treaties and commercial pacts, these men schemed to outwit sabotage and frustrate Wilson at every step. There were tense moments when Wilson rebelled and threatened to take his cause over the heads of the politicians and militarists to the people.
In Rome, Wilson had planned to make a sensational speech from the balcony of the Palazzo Venezia overlooking the great square where, only two years later, Benito Mussolini was to harangue his Blackshirts. The Italian monarchists, fearing the effects of Wilson’s words on the people of Rome, prevented the crowd from gathering in the square and broke up the demonstration on the grounds that it was inspired by “Bolsheviks.” The same thing happened in Paris, where Wilson waited at his hotel window all morning to make a promised speech to the Paris workers. He did not know that French police and soldiers had been called out to stop the workers from reaching his hotel. . . .
Wherever Wilson went in Europe he was surrounded by secret agents and propagandists; behind his back, endless intrigue went on.
Each of the Allied powers had organized its own espionage apparatus for use at the Peace Conference. At 4 Place de la Concorde in Paris the U. S. Military Intelligence established a special Code Room, where highly trained c officers and carefully selected clerks worked day and night interrupting and deciphering the secret messages of the other powers. This Code Room was under the charge of Major Herbert O. Yardley, who later revealed, in his book The American Black Chamber, how eyewitness reports of American agents in Europe describing the true state of affairs were deliberately withheld from President Wilson, into whose ears lurid and fantastic anti-Bolshevik propaganda was ceaselessly dinned.
Frequently, Major Yardley intercepted and decoded secret messages concerning plots to sabotage Wilson’s policies. On one occasion he decoded a message of an even more startling and sinister character. Major Yardley disclosed: –
. . . the reader may well appreciate the shock I received as I deciphered a telegram which reported an Entente plot to assassinate President Wilson either by administering a slow poison or by giving him the influenza in ice. Our informant, in whom we had the greatest confidence, begged the authorities for God’s sake to warn the President. I have no way of knowing whether this plot had any truth in fact, and if it had, whether it succeeded. But there are these undeniable facts: President Wilson’s first sign of illness occurred while he was in Paris, and he was soon to die a lingering death.
2. At the Peace Conference
At the early sessions of the Paris Peace Conference, President Wilson found an unexpected ally in his attempt to win fair play for Russia. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Lloyd George, came to Wilson’s support with a series of stinging attacks on the anti-Soviet plans of Foch and the French Premier Clemenceau.
“The Germans,” declared Lloyd George, “at the time when they needed every available man to reinforce their attack on the Western Front were forced to keep about a million men to garrison a few provinces of Russia which was a mere fringe of the whole country. And, moreover, at that time Bolshevism was weak and disorganized. Now it is strong and has a formidable army. Is any one of the Western Allies prepared to send a million men into Russia? If I proposed to send a thousand additional British troops to Russia for that purpose, the army would mutiny! The same applies to U. S. troops in Siberia; also to Canadians and French as well. The mere idea of crushing Bolshevism by a military force is pure madness. Even admitting it is done, who is to occupy Russia?”
Unlike Wilson, the British Prime Minister was not motivated by idealistic considerations. He feared revolution in Europe and Asia; and, as an old politician, the Welsh “Fox” was keenly sensitive to the popular mood in Britain which was overwhelmingly against further intervention in Russia. There was an even more cogent reason for opposing the plans of Marshal Foch. Sir Henry Wilson, the British Chief of Staff, in a recent secret report to the War Cabinet had stated that the only policy for Britain was “to get our troops out of Europe and Russia and concentrate all our strength in our coming storm centers, England, Ireland, Egypt, India.” Lloyd George feared that Foch and Clemenceau would try to establish French hegemony in Russia while Britain was preoccupied elsewhere.
And so the astute British Prime Minister, believing he could eventually get what he wanted by simply leaving Russia alone for a while, supported the President of the United States in demanding fair play for the Bolsheviks. At secret sessions of the Paris Peace Conference, Lloyd George minced no words.
“The peasants accepted Bolshevism for the same reason that peasants accepted it in the French Revolution, namely, that it gave them land,” Lloyd George declared. “The Bolsheviks are the de facto Government. We formerly recognized the Czar’s Government, although at the time we knew it to be absolutely rotten. Our reason was that it was the de facto Government . . . but we refuse to recognize the Bolsheviks! To say that we ourselves should pick the representatives of a great people is contrary to every principle for which we have fought.”
President Wilson said he did not see how anyone could controvert what Lloyd George had said. He proposed to call a special conference on the Island of Prinkipo, or some other place “convenient of approach,” to explore the possibilities of peace in Russia. In the interests of impartiality, delegates of both the Soviet Government and the White anti-Soviet groups should be invited to attend. . . .
The French “Tiger,” Georges Clemenceau, spokesman for the French holders of Czarist bonds and the General Staff, rose to reply on behalf of the advocates of intervention. Clemenceau knew that Lloyd George’s subtle policy would not be supported in British ruling circles, where the militarists and the Intelligence Service were already committed to an anti-Soviet war. At the same time, Clemenceau felt it was necessary, for Wilson’s benefit, to break down Lloyd George’s arguments by a strong statement of the menace of Bolshevism.
“In principle,” began Clemenceau, “I do not favor conversations with the Bolsheviks, not because they are criminals, but because we would be raising them to our level by saying that they are worthy of entering into conversation with us.” The British Prime Minister and the President of the United States, if the French Premier might be permitted to say so, were adopting too academic and doctrinaire an attitude to the question of Bolshevism. “The Bolshevik danger is very great at the present moment,” Clemenceau declared. “Bolshevism is spreading. It has invaded the Baltic Provinces and Poland, and this very morning we have received very bad news regarding its spread to Budapest and Vienna. Italy, also, is in danger. The danger is probably greater there than in France. If Bolshevism, after spreading in Germany, were to traverse Austria and Hungary and to reach Italy, Europe would be faced with a very great danger. Therefore, something must be done against Bolshevism!”
Clemenceau did not rely on his own eloquence alone. He asked permission to introduce “expert witnesses” on the subject of Bolshevism. The first of them was Ambassador Noulens, the onetime friend of Ambassador Francis at Petrograd and the ringleader of the anti-Soviet intriguers in the diplomatic corps. Noulens was introduced to Wilson and Lloyd George.
“I will confine myself to statements of facts,” said Ambassador Noulens, and immediately plunged into an amazing recital of “Bolshevik atrocities.”
“Not only men, but women have been shot,” said Noulens. “There have been atrocities, drowning’, the cutting off of noses and tongues, mutilations, burials alive, mock shootings, rape and pillage everywhere.”
Noulens repeated the feverish gossip of the anti-Soviet diplomatic corps and the Czarist émigrés: “A company of professional torturers is being maintained at the Fortress of Peter and Paul. . The Bolshevik Army is more a rabble than an army!”
.”Then there is the case of Captain Cromie, the British Naval Attaché,” Noulens continued, “who was killed in defense of the British Embassy, and whose body was exposed for three days in the window of the Embassy!” Terror, mass murder, degeneracy, corruption, complete contempt for the Allies – these were the distinguishing features of the Soviet regime. . . .
“Finally,” said Ambassador Noulens, “I wish to point out that the Bolshevik Government is definitely imperialist. It means to conquer the world, and to make peace with no Government!”
But for all Noulens’s efforts, the President of the United States was not greatly impressed. Only a few days before, a special American agent, W. H. Buckler, at Wilson’s request, had held a confidential talk with Maxim Litvinov of the Soviet Government. In a report dated January 18, 1919, Buckler informed President Wilson: –
Litvinov stated that the Soviet Government was anxious for permanent peace. . . . They detest the military preparations and costly campaigns which are now being forced upon Russia after four years of exhausting war, and wish to ascertain whether the United States and the Allies have a desire for peace.
If such is the case, peace can easily be negotiated, for, according to Litvinov, the Soviet Government are prepared to compromise on all points, including protection to existing foreign enterprises, the granting of new concessions in Russia, and the Russian foreign debt. . . . The Soviet Government’s conciliatory attitude is unquestionable.
. . . In so far as the League of Nations can prevent war without encouraging reaction, it can count on the support of the Soviet Government.
Buckler added that there were certain elements within the Bolshevik ranks who were strongly opposed to the Soviet Government’s peace policy. These opposition elements, stated Buckler, “hope for more active Allied intervention,” and, he warned, “the continuation of such intervention plays into the hands of these extremists.”
Woodrow Wilson’s peace plan, backed by Lloyd George, seemed about to go through in spite of Clemenceau and Foch. Wilson drew up a note outlining the terms of his proposal and sent it to the Soviet Government and to the various White Russian groups. The Soviet Government promptly accepted Wilson’s plan, and prepared to send delegates to Prinkipo. But, as Winston Churchill later put it, “the moment was not propitious” for peace in Russia. The majority of the Allied leaders were convinced that the Soviet regime would soon be overthrown. On the secret advice of their Allied supporters, the White groups refused to meet with the Soviet delegates at Prinkipo.
The atmosphere at the Peace Conference changed. Lloyd George, realizing he was getting nowhere, abruptly returned to London. In his place, Winston Churchill, the youthful British Secretary of War and Aviation, hurried to Paris to state the case for the anti-Bolshevik extremists.(3)
It was February 14, 1919, the day before Wilson was to go back to America to face the isolationist Congressional bloc, beaded by Senator Lodge, which had undermined his every effort to create a system of world co-operation and security. Wilson knew he had failed in Europe, and feared he might fail in the United States. He was disillusioned, tired and profoundly discouraged.
Winston Churchill was introduced to President Wilson by the British Foreign Secretary A. J. Balfour who announced that the British Secretary of War had come over to Paris to explain the present views of the British Cabinet on the question of Russia. Churchill immediately plunged into an attack on Wilson’s Prinkipo peace plan.
“There was a Cabinet meeting in London yesterday,” said Churchill, “at which great anxiety was manifested concerning the Russian situation, particularly in respect of the Prinkipo meeting. . . . If only the Bolsheviks are to attend the conference, it is thought that little good will come of the meeting. The military aspect of the case must be considered. Great Britain has soldiers in Russia who are being killed in action.”
Wilson answered Churchill: “Since Mr. Churchill has come over from London specially to anticipate my departure, I feel I should express what my personal thoughts on the subject are. Among the many uncertainties connected with Russia, I have a very clear opinion about two points. The first is that the troops of the Allied and Associated Powers are doing no sort of good in Russia. They do not know for whom or for what they are fighting. They are not assisting any promising effort to establish order throughout Russia. They are assisting local movements, like, for instance, that of the Cossacks, who cannot be induced to move outside of their own sphere. My conclusion, therefore, is that the Allied and Associated Powers ought to withdraw their troops from all parts of Russian territory.”
“The second point,” Wilson wearily continued, “relates to Prinkipo. . . . What we are seeking is not a rapprochement with the Bolsheviks, but clear information. The reports received from Russia from various official and unofficial sources are so conflicting that it is impossible to form a coherent picture of the state of the country. Some light on the situation may be obtained by meeting the Russian representatives.”
When the American President had finished speaking, Churchill replied: –
“Complete withdrawal of all Allied troops is a logical and clear policy, but its consequence would be the destruction of all non-Bolshevik armies in Russia. These number at the present time about 500,000 men and though their quality is not of the best, their numbers are nevertheless increasing. Such a policy would be equivalent to pulling out the linch-pin from the whole machine. There would be no further armed resistance to the Bolsheviks in Russia, and an interminable vista of violence and misery would be all that remained for the whole of Russia.”
“But in some areas these forces and supplies would certainly be assisting reactionaries,” objected Wilson. “Consequently, if the Allies are asked what they are supporting in Russia, they will be compelled to reply that they do not know!”
Churchill listened politely. “I would like to know,” he said, “whether the Council would approve of arming the anti-Bolshevik forces in Russia should the Prinkipo Conference prove a failure?”
Dispirited, ill, deserted by Lloyd George, Wilson realized that he was isolated among a company of men determined to have their own way.
“I have explained to the Council how I would act if I were alone,” said the President of the United States. “I will, however, cast in my lot with the rest.”
Wilson returned to the United States to fight his tragic, losing battle with American reaction.(4) Secretary of State Lansing took his place at the Paris Conference, and the tone of the discussions underwent a notable change. The Allied representatives no longer felt the need of concealing what was in their minds.
Clemenceau dryly recommended that the Peace Conference “get out of its troubles as discreetly and simply as possible.” The Prinkipo question should be dropped entirely, and no further mention made of it. “The Allies got into this Prinkipo business,” said Clemenceau, “and now they have got to get out of it!”
The British Foreign Secretary Balfour amplified Clemenceau’s comments. “It is necessary,” he declared, “to take steps to put the Bolsheviks in the wrong, not only before public opinion, but before those who hold the view that Bolshevism is democracy gone astray with large elements of good in it.”
Whereupon the Conference settled down to a prolonged discussion of the most effective means of aiding the White Russian armies against the Soviet Government.
Churchill, who had replaced Lloyd George at the conference table, proposed the immediate establishment of a Supreme Allied Council for Russian Affairs, with political, economic and military sections. The military section was “to get to work at once” on drawing up the details of a broad program of armed intervention.
3. Golovin’s Mission
With Churchill as the acknowledged but unofficial Commander-in-Chief of the Allied anti-Soviet armies, the scene shifted to London where, during that spring and summer, special White Russian emissaries streamed into the British Government offices at Whitehall. They came, as representatives of Admiral Kolchak, General Denikin, and other White Russian leaders, to make the final arrangements for an all-out drive against the Soviets. Their highly secretive negotiations were conducted for the most part with. Winston Churchill and Sir Samuel Hoare. Churchill, as Secretary of War, undertook to equip the White Russian armies with materiel from Great Britain’s accumulation of surplus war supplies. Hoare supervised the complex diplomatic intrigues.
Among the White Russian representatives were such “democratic Russians” as the famous Social-Revolutionary terrorist, Boris Savinkov; the Czarist Prince Lvov; and Sergei Sazonov, the former Czarist Minister of Foreign Affairs, who had been acting as both Denikin’s and Kolchak’s representative in Paris. On May 27, 1919, the London Times reported: –
M. Sazonov met a number of members of Parliament at the House of Commons last night. Sir Samuel Hoare presided . . . M. Sazonov took a favorable view of the prospects of an early overthrow of the Bolshevik regime, and said that recognition of Admiral Kolchak’s Government would do much to hasten this event. He expressed the deep gratitude of Russians not only for the material support which had been afforded them by Great Britain, but for the services of the British Navy in saving a large number of refugees.
The “Official Representative of the White Russian Armies” at the British War Office was Lieutenant General Golovin. He had arrived early that spring carrying a personal note of introduction to Winston Churchill. Shortly after Golovin reached London, he conferred with Sir Samuel Hoare. Among the subjects they discussed was the question of the Caucasus and, in particular, its great oil deposits at Grosni and Baku.
On May 5, accompanied by Hoare, Golovin paid his first visit to the British War Office. On Hoare’s advice, the Russian officer wore his full-dress uniform. He was received with great cordiality by the British officers, who listened absorbedly as he outlined the progress of the various White Russian campaigns.
That same day, at half-past five in the afternoon, Golovin saw Churchill. The Secretary of War spoke angrily of the opposition of the British liberals and workingmen to military aid to the White anti-Soviet armies. Churchill expressed the hope that, in spite of this obstacle, he would be able to send an additional 10,000 “volunteers” for the northern campaign. Reinforcements, he knew, were badly needed in this area because of the serious demoralization that had set in among the British and American troops.
Churchill also stressed his eagerness to assist General Denikin as much as possible. At any event, Denikin could expect 2500 “volunteers” for service as military instructors and technical experts. As for immediate material help, Churchill told Golovin that £24,000,000 (approximately $100,000,000) would be allocated to the various anti-Soviet fronts, and there would be adequate equipment and arms to outfit 100,000 Yudenitch troops for the march on Petrograd. Arrangements would be made for 500 Czarist officers who were prisoners of war in Germany to be transferred to Archangel at British expense. . . .
“The result of the interview exceeded all my expectations,” Golovin stated in the report he submitted to his superiors when he returned to Russia. “Churchill is not only a sympathizer but an energetic and active friend. The greatest possible aid is assured us. Now we have to show the English that we are ready to turn words into deeds.” (5)
1. In his opening address to the Paris Peace Conference, Woodrow Wilson also said: “There is, moreover, a voice calling for these definitions of principle and of purpose which is, it seems to me, more thrilling and more compelling than any of the many moving voices with which the troubled air of the world is filled. It is the voice of the Russian people.”
2. The reason for the failure of the Allied Armies to march to Berlin in 1918 and permanently disarm German militarism was Allied fear of Bolshevism, skillfully exploited by German politicians. The Allied Commander-in-Chief, Marshal Foch, revealed in his postwar memoirs that from the outset of the peace negotiations the German spokesmen repeatedly invoked “the threatened Bolshevist invasion of Germany” as a means of securing favorable peace terms for Germany. General Wilson of the British General Staff recorded in his War Diary on November 9, 1918, two days before the Armistice was signed: “Cabinet meeting tonight from 6:30-8. Lloyd George read two telegrams from the Tiger (Clemenceau) in which he described Foch’s interviews with the Germans: the Tiger is afraid that Germany may collapse and that Bolshevism may gain control. Lloyd George asked me if I wanted that to happen or if I did not’ prefer an armistice. Without hesitation I replied: “Armistice.” The whole cabinet agreed with me. For us the real danger is no longer the Germans but Bolshevism.” In a moment of claritv, Clemenceau himself warned the Paris Peace Conference that “anti-Bolshevism” was a device being utilized by the German General Staff to confuse the Allies and to save German militarism. “The Germans are using Bolshevism,” said Clemenceau in 1919, “as a bogey with which to frighten the Allies.” Nevertheless, under the influence of Foch, Petain, Weygand and others, the Tiger forgot his own warning and succumbed to the anti-Bolshevik hysteria which soon paralyzed all clear thought and democratic action by the Allied peacemakers.
3. At that time, and for many years to come, Winston Churchill was the leading spokesman for British Tory anti-Sovietism. Churchill feared the spread of Russian revolutionary ideas through the eastern regions of the British Empire.
Rene Kraus, in his biography Winston Churchill, writes: “The Big Five in Paris had decided to support the White Russian counterrevolution. Churchill was entrusted with the execution of an action he was not responsible for. But there is no denying that once the decision was made he was all on fire to carry it out…. In association with the Chief of Staff, Sir Henry Wilson, he worked out a program to equip and arm the various White Armies from surplus war stores, and to help them with expert officers and instructors.”
After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, Churchill recognized that Nazism constituted the real menace to British interests in Europe and throughout the world. Without hesitation, Churchill reversed his stand on Soviet Russia and began calling for an alliance between Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union to halt the march of Nazi aggression. In 1941, when Nazi Germany invaded Soviet Russia, Churchill’s voice was the first to address the world with the declaration that Russia’s fight was the fight of all free peoples and would receive Britain’s support. At the conclusion of the Seccnd World War, Churchill, while on the one hand supporting the British-Soviet alliance, on the other hand again raised the cry of the “menace of Bolshevism” to Europe.
4. Woodrow Wilson made one last effort to win fair play for Russia. On his own initiative he sent William C. Bullitt, then a young State Department official attached to the American Peace Delegation in Paris, to Moscow to contact Lenin and ask the Soviet leader if he really desired peace. Bullirt was accompanied on his mission by the great American newspaperman, Lincoln Steffens, who returned with his eight-word report on Soviet Russia: “I have seen the future it works!” Bullitt himself brought back Lenin’s peace terms both for the Allies and for the White groups. Lenin was more than willing to make peace, but his proposals, as Winston Churchill was finally to reveal in his work The World Crisis: The Aftermath, were “treated with disdain” and “Bullitt himself was not without some difficulty disowned by those who had sent him.” Bullitt’s explanation, as he stated to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in September 1919, of why Lenin’s peace terms were ignored: “Kolchak made a 100-mile advance, and immediately the entire press of Vu is was roaring and screaming on the subject, announcing that Kolchak would be in Moscow within two weeks; and therefore everyone in Paris, including, I regret to say, members of the American commission, began to grew very lukewarm about peace in Russia, because they thought Kolchak would arrive in Moscow and wipe out the Soviet Government.”
For Bullitt’s subsequent career as an antagonist of the Soviet Union, see pages 374ff.
5. This report, subsequently captured by the Red Army in the secret archives of the Murmansk White Government, was published in the Daily Herald in London a short time after, causing considerable embarrassment to anti-Soviet circles in England.
CHAPTER VI – The War of Intervention
By the summer of 1919, without declaration of war, the armed forces of fourteen states had invaded the territory of Soviet Russia. The countries involved were: –
Fighting side by side with the anti-Soviet invaders were the counterrevolutionary White armies(1) led by former Czarist generals striving to restore the feudal aristocracy which the Russian people had overthrown.
The strategy of the attackers was ambitious. The armies of the White generals, moving in conjunction with the interventionist troops, were to converge on Moscow from the north, south, east and west.
In the north and northwest, at Archangel, Murmansk and in the Baltic States, the forces of the British stood poised alongside the White Russian troops of General Nicholas Yudentich.
In the south, at bases in the Caucasus and along the Black Sea, were the White armies of General Anton Denikin, amply supplied and reinforced by the French.
In the east, Admiral Alexander Kolchak’s forces, operating under British military advisors, were encamped along the Ural Mountains.
In the west, under the leadership of French officers, were General Pilsudski’s newly organized Polish armies.
Allied statesmen advanced various reasons for the presence of their troops in Russia. When their soldiers first landed in Murmansk and Archangel in the spring and summer of 1918, the Allied Governments declared the troops had come to prevent supplies from falling into the hands of the Germans. Later they explained their troops were in Siberia to help the Czechoslovakian forces withdraw from Russia. Another reason given for the presence of Allied detachments was that they were helping the Russians to “restore order” in their troubled land.
Repeatedly. Allied statesmen denied any intention of armed intervention against the Soviets, or of interfering with Russia’s internal affairs. “We do not propose to interfere with the internal arrangements of Russia,” declared Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, in August 1918. “She must manage her own affairs.”
The ironic and invariably blunt Winston Churchill, who himself supervised the Allied campaign against Soviet Russia, later wrote in his book, The World Crisis: the Aftermath:
Were they [the Allies] at war with Russia? Certainly not; but they shot Soviet Russians at sight. They stood as invaders on Russian soil. They armed the enemies of the Soviet Government. They blockaded the ports and sunk its battleships. They earnestly desired and schemed its downfall. But war – shocking! Interference – shame! It was, they repeated, a matter of indifference to them how Russians settled their own affairs. They were impartial – bang!
The young Soviet Government struggled for its life in the face of desperate odds. The country had been laid waste and exhausted by the World War. Millions were destitute and starving. The factories were empty, the land unplowed, transport at a standstill. It seemed impossible that such a country could survive the fierce onslaught of an enemy with large, well equipped armies, vast financial reserves, ample food and other supplies.
Besieged on all sides by foreign invaders, imperiled by endless conspiracies at home, the Red Army retreated slowly across the countryside, fighting grimly as it went. The territory controlled by Moscow dwindled to one sixteenth of Russia’s total area. It was a Soviet island in an anti-Soviet sea.
2. Northern Campaign
In the early summer of 1918 special agents of the British Secret Service had arrived in Archangel. Their orders were to prepare an armed uprising against the local Soviet administration in that highly strategic port. Working under the supervision of Captain George Ermolaevich Chaplin, an ex-Czarist officer who had been given a commission in the British Army, and aided by counterrevolutionary White Russian conspirators, the British Intelligence agents made the necessary preparations for the rebellion.
The revolt broke out on August 2. The following day Major General Frederick C. Poole, the British Commander-in-Chief of the Allied forces in North Russia, occupied Archangel with a landing force supported by British and French warships. Simultaneously, Serbian and White Russian troops led by Colonel Thornhill of the British Secret Service began an overland march from Onega to cut the Archangel-Vologda line and attack the retreating Bolsheviks from the rear.
Having overthrown the Archangel Soviet, General Poole organized a puppet government called the Supreme Administration of Northern Russia and headed by the elderly politician, Nikolai Tchaikovsky.
Before long, however, even this anti-Soviet administration seemed too liberal to suit the taste of General Poole and his Czarist allies. They decided to dispense with the formality of a government and to set up a military dictatorship.
By September 6, General Poole and his White Russian allies had carried out their plan. On that day Ambassador David R. Francis, who was visiting Archangel, was invited to review a battalion of American troops. As the last ranks of the soldiers marched by, General Poole turned to the American Ambassador and casually remarked, “There was a revolution here last night.”
“The hell you say!” exclaimed Ambassador Francis. “Who pulled it off?”
“Chaplin,” said General Poole, pointing to the Czarist naval officer, who had engineered the original coup against the Archangel Soviet.
Francis beckoned to Captain Chaplin to come over.
“Chaplin, who pulled off this revolution last night.” asked the American Ambassador.
“I did,” Chaplin laconically replied.
The coup d’état had taken place on the previous evening. Captain Chaplin and some British officers, in the dead of night, had kidnapped President Tchaikovsky and the other members of the Supreme Administration of the Northern Region and spirited them away by boat to a lonely monastery on a near-by island. There Captain Chaplin had left the Russian politicians under armed guard.
Such high-handed measures were a little too crude even for Ambassador Francis, who, moreover, had been kept completely unaware of the plot. Francis told General Poole that the American Government would not stand for the coup d’état.
Within twenty-four hours the puppet Ministers were brought back to Archangel and their “Supreme Administration” reestablished. Francis cabled the U. S. State Department that, as a result of his efforts, democracy had been restored.
By the early part of 1919 the British forces in Archangel and Murmansk numbered 18,400. Fighting side by side with them were 5100 Americans, 1800 Frenchmen, 1200 Italians, 1000 Serbs and approximately 20,000 White Russians.
Describing Archangel during this period, Captain John Cudahy(2) of the American Expeditionary Force later wrote in his book, Archangel: The American War with Russia, that “everyone was an officer.” There were, Cudahy records, countless Czarist officers “weighed down with their glittering, ponderous medals”; Cossack officers with their high gray hats, gaudy tunics and rattling sabers; English officers from Eton and Harrow; French soldiers with their magnificent peaked caps and shining boots; Serbian, Italian and French officers. . . .
“And, of course,” noted Cudahy, “there were large numbers of batmen to shine the boots and burnish the spurs and keep all in fine order, and other batmen to look after the appointments of the officers’ club, and serve the whiskey and soda.”
The gentlemanly manner in which these officers lived contrasted sharply with the way in which they fought.
“We used gas shells on the Bolsheviki,” Ralph Albertson, a Y.M.C.A. official who was in North Russia in 1919, wrote in his book, Fighting Without a War. “We fixed all the booby traps we could think of when we evacuated villages. Once we shot more than thirty prisoners. . . . And when we caught the Commissar of Borok, a sergeant tells me he left his body in the street, stripped, with sixteen bayonet wounds. We surprised Borok, and the Commissar, a civilian, did not have time to arm himself. . . . I have heard an officer tell his men repeatedly to take no prisoners, to kill them even if they came in unarmed. . . . I saw a disarmed Bolshevik prisoner, who was making no trouble of any kind, shot down in cold blood. . . . Night after night the firing squad took out its batches of victims.”
The rank-and-file Allied soldiers had no heart for the anti-Soviet campaign. They wondered why they should be fighting in Russia when the war was supposedly over. It was difficult for the Allied Commands to give an explanation. “At first this was not thought necessary,” Cudahy recorded. “Then the High Command, remembering the importance of morale . . . issued proclamations that puzzled and confused the soldier more than if a course of silence had been followed.”
One of the proclamations from British General Headquarters in northern Russia, which was read to British and American troops, opened with these words:
There seems to be among the troops a very indistinct idea of what we are fighting for here in Northern Russia. This can be explained in a few words. We are up against Bolshevism, which means anarchy pure and simple. Look at Russia at the present moment. The power is in the hands of a few men, mostly Jews. . . .
The temper of the troops became increasingly strained. Quarrels between the British, French and White Russian soldiers grew more and more frequent. Mutinies began to break out. When the American 339th Infantry refused to obey orders, Colonel Stewart, who was in command, assembled his men and read them the Articles of War specifying death as the penalty for mutiny. After a moment of impressive silence, the Colonel asked if there were any questions. A voice from the ranks spoke up:
“Sir, what are we here for, and what are the intentions of the United States Government?”
The Colonel could not answer the question. . . .
The British Chief of Staff, Sir Henry Wilson, made this report, in the official British Blue Book, regarding the situation in northern Russia in the summer of 1919:
On 7th July a determined mutiny took place in the 3rd Company of the 1st 13n. [Battalion] Slavo-British Legion and the Machine-Gun Company of the 4th Northern Rifle Regiment, who were in reserve on the right bank of the Dvina. Three British officers and four Russian officers were murdered, and two British officers and two Russian officers were wounded.
On July 22 news was received that the Russian regiment in the Onega district had mutinied, and had handed over the whole Onega front to the Bolsheviks.
In the United States there was a rising popular demand that American soldiers be withdrawn from Russia. The incessant stream of propaganda against the “Bolsheviks” failed to still the voices of wives and parents who could not understand why, with the war over, their husbands and sons should be waging a lonely, indecisive and mysterious campaign in the wilds of Siberia and in the grim, bitter cold of Murmansk and Archangel. Throughout the summer and fall of 1919, delegations from all parts of the United States traveled to Washington to see their representatives and demand that American soldiers in Russia be brought home. Their demand was echoed in Congress.
On September 5, 1919, Senator Borah arose in the Senate and declared:
Mr. President, we are not at war with Russia; Congress has not declared war against the Russian government or the Russian people. The people of the United States do not desire to be at war with Russia. . . . Yet, while we are not at war with Russia, while Congress has not declared war, we are carrying on war with the Russian people. We have an army in Russia; we are furnishing munitions and supplies to other armed forces in that country, and we are just as thoroughly engaged in conflict as though constitutional authority had been invoked, a declaration of war had been made, and the nation had been called to arms for that purpose. . . . There is neither legal nor moral justification for sacrificing these lives. It is in violation of the plain principles of free government.
The people of England and France shared the American people’s disapproval of the war against Soviet Russia. Nevertheless, the undeclared war against Russia went on.
3. Northwestern Campaign
The Armistice of November 1918 between the Allied and Central Powers contained in Article 12 a little-publicized clause stipulating that German troops should remain as long as the Allies considered it expedient in whatever Russian territory they then occupied. It was understood these troops were to be used against the Bolsheviks. In the Baltic provinces, however, the Kaiser’s army swiftly disintegrated. The war-weary and mutinous German soldiers deserted in droves.
Faced with a rapidly growing Soviet movement in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, the British High Command decided to concentrate its support upon White Guard bands operating in the Baltic area. The man selected to head these bands and weld them into a single military unit was General Count Radiger von tier Goltz of the German High Command.
General von tier Goltz had led a German expeditionary corps against the Finnish Republic in the spring of 1918, shortly after that country had acquired its independence as a result of the Russian Revolution. Von tier Goltz had undertaken the Finnish campaign at the express request of Baron Karl Gustav von Mannerheim, a Swedish aristocrat and former officer in the Czar’s Imperial Horse Guard, who headed the White forces in Finland.(3)
As commander of the White Guard Army in the Baltic area, von tier Goltz now launched a campaign of terror to stamp out the Soviet movement in Latvia and Lithuania. His troops pillaged large sections of the land and carried out wholesale executions of civilians. The Latvian and Lithuanian people had little military equipment or organization with which to resist this savage onslaught. Before long, von tier Goltz was virtual dictator of the two nations.
The American Relief Administration under the direction of Herbert Hoover placed large food supplies at the disposal of the German General von tier Goltz. These supplies were withheld from the starving Baltic peoples until their territory had been occupied by von tier Goltz’s White troops. The food was then distributed under the General’s supervision.
The Allies were soon confronted with something of a dilemma. With their aid, von tier Goltz dominated the Baltic area; but he was still a German general, and consequently there was the danger that, through his influence, Germany would seek to control the Baltic States.
In June 1919, the British decided to replace von tier Goltz with a general more directly under their control.
Sidney Reilly’s friend, the fifty-eight-year-old ex-Czarist General Nicholas Yudenitch, was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the reorganized White forces. The British agreed to furnish the necessary military supplies to General Yudenitch for a march on Petrograd. The first shipment of supplies pledged was complete equipment for 10,000 men, 15,000,000 cartridges, 3000 automatic rifles, and a number of tanks and airplanes.(4)
Representatives of Herbert Hoover’s American Relief Administration promised to make food available to areas occupied by General Yudenitch’s troops. Major It. R. Powers, Chief of the Estonian Section of the Baltic Mission of the American Relief Administration, began making a careful survey to estimate the amount of food necessary to guarantee the seizure of Petrograd by General Yudenitch’s White Russian Army. On June 15, 1919, the Relief Administration’s first shipment arrived, when the U. S. Lake Charlottesville anchored in the harbor at Reval, carrying 2400 tons of flour and towing a barge containing 147 tons of bacon.
Under Yudenitch’s command an all-out offensive was launched against Petrograd. By the third week in October 1919, Yudenitch’s cavalry was in the suburbs of the city. The Allied Governments were convinced that the fall of Petrograd was only a matter of days, perhaps hours. The headlines of the New York Times pictured the victory as won:
October 18 ANTI-RED FORCES NOW IN PETROGRAD STOCKHOLM HEARS
October 20 PETROGRAD’S FALL AGAIN REPORTED: MOSCOW LINE CUT
October 21 ANTI-RED FORCES NEAR PETROGRAD; NEWS OF FALL OF CITY HOURLY EXPECTED IN LONDON
But at the very gates of Petrograd Yudenitch was stopped. Massing its forces, the revolutionary city struck back. Yudenitch’s forces reeled before the fierce onslaught.
On February 29, 1920, the New York Times reported: “Yudenitch Quits Army; Starts for Paris with His Fortune of 100,000,000 Marks.”
Fleeing southward from Estonia in a car flying a British flag, Yudenitch left behind him the total wreckage of his once proud army. Scattered bands of his soldiers wandered across the snow-blanketed countryside, (lying by the thousands of starvation, disease and exposure. . . .
4. Southern Campaign
While the forces of Yudenitch drove on Petrograd in the north, the attack from the south was being led by General Anton Denikin, a distinguished-looking, forty-five-year-old former Czarist officer with a grizzled beard and gray mustaches. General Denikin subsequently described his White Army as having “one sacred innermost thought, one vivid hope and desire . . . that of saving Russia.” But among the Russian people, Denikin’s army in southern Russia was better known for its sadistic methods of warfare.
From the beginning of the Russian Revolution, the Ukraine with its rich wheatlands and the Don Region with its immense coal and iron deposits had been the scene of savage conflict. Following the establishment of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in December 1917, the Ukrainian anti-Soviet leader, General Simon Petlura, had urged the German High Command to send troops into the Ukraine and help him overthrow the Soviet regime. The Germans, with hungry eyes on the Ukraine’s vast food resources, needed no second invitation.
Under the command of Field Marshal Hermann von Eichhorn, German troops swept into the Ukraine. Von Eichhorn himself had a considerable personal interest in the campaign: his wife was the Countess Durnovo, a wealthy Russian noblewoman who had been one of the largest landowners in the Ukraine. The Soviet forces were driven from Kiev and Kharkov, and a puppet “Independent Ukraine,” controlled by the German Army of Occupation, was formed with General Petlura at its head. Declaring his aim to be the establishment of “National Socialism,” Petlura instigated a series of bloody, anti-Semitic pogroms throughout the Ukraine. Ruthless punitive measures were employed to suppress the revolutionary Ukrainian workers and peasants.
The revolutionary movement, however, continued to grow. Von Eichhorn, deciding that Petlura was incapable of handling the situation, replaced his government with a military dictatorship. The new puppet regime was headed by von Eichhorn’s brother-in-law, General Pavel Petrovich Skoropadski, a hitherto unrenowned Russian cavalryman, who could not speak a word of Ukrainian. Skoropadski assumed the title of Hetman (Head Man) of the Ukraine.
Hetman Skoropadski fared little better than Petlura. Before the end of 1918, disguised as a German private, he fled from the Ukraine with the German Army of Occupation, which had been decimated by the Red Army and by the Ukrainian partisans.
The departure of the Germans by no means ended the problems of the Bolsheviks in the Ukraine. The Allies also had been supporting anti-Soviet White Russian movements in southern Russia. Allied aid had gone chiefly to the counterrevolutionary forces which had been organized into the “Volunteer Army” in the Don Cossack region under the leadership of Kaledin, Kornilov, Denikin and other former Czarist generals who had fled south after the Bolshevik Revolution.
At first the campaign of the Volunteer Army met with serious reverses. General Kaledin, its original commander-in-chief, committed suicide. His successor, General Kornilov, was driven from the Don Region by the Soviet forces and finally killed in a battle on April 13, 1918. Command of the retreating, desperately harassed Volunteer Army was assumed by General Denikin.
At this very moment, when the fortunes of the White Russians appeared to be at their lowest ebb, the first British and French troops landed in Murmansk and Archangel, and substantial Allied supplies began pouring across the Russian frontiers to aid the White Armies. Denikin’s hard-pressed army was saved from destruction. Replenished and reinforced, the Denikin army was ready, by the fall of 1918, to assume the offensive against the Soviets. . . .
On November 22, 1918, exactly eleven days after the Armistice which ended the First World War was signed, a radiogram reached Denikin’s southern headquarters with the message that an Allied fleet was on its way to Novorossisk. The following day Allied vessels anchored in the Black Sea port, and French and British emissaries came ashore to inform Denikin that ample war supplies from France and Great Britain would be coming to his assistance in the immediate future.
During the last weeks of 1918 French troops occupied Odessa and Sevastopol. An English flotilla steamed into the Black Sea and landed detachments at Batum. A British commander was as named Governor General of the region.(5)
Under the supervision of the French High Command, and supplied with great quantities of military equipment by the British, Denikin launched a major offensive against Moscow. Denikin’s chief aide in this offensive was General Baron von Wrangel, a tall, lean military man with thinning hair and chill, slate-blue eyes, who was notorious for his savage cruelty. Periodically
Wrangel would execute groups of unarmed prisoners in front of their comrades and then give the prisoners who had witnessed the execution the choice of joining his army or else being shot. When the troops of Denikin and Wrangel stormed into the captured city of Stavropol, one of their first acts was to break into a hospital and massacre seventy wounded Red Army soldiers. Pillage was an official practice in Denikin’s army. Wrangel himself issued orders to his troops that loot from their campaign should be “equally divided” among them.
Driving north the forces of Denikin and Wrangel occupied Tsaritsyn (now Stalingrad) in June 1919, and by October were approaching Tula, 120 miles from Moscow. “The entire Bolshevik structure in Russia appears to be collapsing,” reported the New York Times. “The evacuation of Moscow, the head center of Bolshevism, has begun.” The Times described Denikin as “sweeping all before him,” and the Red Army as retreating in “wild panic.”
But, using a plan of attack drawn up by Stalin as a member of the Revolutionary Military Committee, the Red Army initiated a sudden counteroffensive.
Denikin’s forces were taken completely by surprise. Within a few weeks the Southern White Russian Army was in headlong retreat toward the Black Sea. Morale broke down, and Denikin’s troops fled in panic and disorder. Sick and dying clogged the roads. Hospital trains were frequently without medical supplies, doctors or nurses. The army disintegrated into bands of robbers, streaming toward the south.
On December 9, 1919, General Wrangel sent a panic-stricken dispatch to General Denikin, declaring:
This is the bitter truth. The Army has ceased to exist as a fighting force.
In the early weeks of 1920 the remnants of Denikin’s army reached the port of Novorossisk on the Black Sea. White soldiers, deserters and civilian refugees poured into the city.
On March 27, 1920, while the British warship Emperor of India and the French cruiser Waldeck-Rousseau stood by and hurled shells inland at the advancing Red columns, Denikin set sail from Novorossisk on a French war vessel. Tens of thousands of soldiers from Denikin’s army crowded onto the docks and watched helplessly while their commander and officers steamed away.
5. Eastern Campaign
According to the master plan of the interventionists, while Denikin drove on Moscow from the south, Admiral Kolchak was to besiege the city from the east. Events, however, did not proceed according to plan. . . .
During the spring and early summer of 1919, newspapers in Paris, London and New York carried frequent, detailed reports of devastating Red Army defeats at the hands of Admiral Kolchak. These were some of the headlines which appeared in the New York Times:
March 26 KOLCHAK PURSUES BROKEN RED ARMY
April 20 REDS COLLAPSING IN THE EAST
April 22 RED RULE TOTTERS AS KOLCHAK WINS
May 15 KOLCHAK PLANS MOVE ON MOSCOW
But on August 11 the Times carried a dispatch from Washington stating:
The time has come, a high official of the government stated tonight, to prepare the people of the anti-Bolshevik world for a possible disaster to the Kolchak regime in Western Siberia.
By midsummer Admiral Kolchak was fleeing desperately be fore the smashing attacks of the Red Army. At the same time his troops were being ceaselessly harassed behind their lines by a widespread, rapidly growing guerilla movement. In November, Kolchak evacuated his capital at Omsk. In tattered uniforms and worn-out boots, Kolchak’s troops trudged along the roads leading from Omsk. Thousands dropped from the endless, miserable parade and died in the snow alongside the roads. The railroad lines from Omsk were clogged with broken-down locomotives. “The dead,” an observer noted, “were thrown along the trucks to rot.”
Kolchak reached Irkutsk in a train flying the Union Jack, the Stars and Stripes, the French and Italian tricolors, and the Rising Sun of Japan.
The people of Irkutsk revolted on December 24, 1919, establishing a Soviet, and arrested Kolchak. Seized with him was a vast treasure he had been transporting in a special train: 5143 boxes and 1680 bags of gold bricks, bullion, securities and valuables, with an estimated total value of 1,150,500,000 rubles.
Admiral Kolchak was placed on trial by the Soviet regime and charged with treason. “If a ship sinks, it sinks with all hands,” Kolchak told the court, regretting he had not remained at sea. Bitterly he asserted that he had been betrayed by “foreign elements” which had deserted him in the crisis. . . .
The court sentenced Kolchak to be shot. He was executed by a firing squad on February 7, 1920. A number of Kolchak’s aides escaped to the Japanese. One of them, General Bakich, sent this final message to the White Russian Consul at Urga, Mongolia: “Pursued by the Jews and Communists, I have crossed the frontier!”
6. The Poles and Wrangel
In spite of the catastrophic reversals they had suffered, the Anglo-French interventionists launched two more offensives against western Soviet Russia.
In April 1920, demanding all the territory of the western Ukraine and the occupation of the Russian town of Smolensk, the Poles attacked from the west. Generously equipped by the French and British with war materials and a $50,000,000 loan from the United States,(6) the Poles drove into the Ukraine and occupied Kiev. Here they were halted and hurled back by the Red Army.
With the Russian troops hot on their heels, the Poles retreated frantically. By August, the Red Army stood at the gates of Warsaw and Lvov.
The Allied Governments rushed fresh loans and supplies to the Poles. Marshal Foch hurriedly sent his chief of staff, General Maxime Weygand, to direct Polish operations. British tanks and planes were rushed to Warsaw. The Red troops, commanded by General Tukachevsky and War Commissar Leon Trotsky, had dangerously overextended their lines of communications. Now they suffered the consequences, as the Polish counteroffensive drove them back along the entire front. The Soviet Government, by the Peace of Riga, was forced to turn over to the Poles the western portions of Byelorussia and the Ukraine. . . .
The peace with Poland left the Red Army free to deal with Baron Wrangel, who, replacing General Denikin as commander-in-chief in the south and supported by the French, had driven northward from the Crimea into the Ukraine. By the late fall of 1920, Wrangel was driven into the Crimea and bottled up by the Red forces. In November the Red Army stormed Perekop and swept into the Crimea, driving Wrangel’s army into the sea.
7. The Last Survivor
With the smashing of Wrangel’s army and the end of intervention in the west, the only foreign army remaining on Russian soil was that of Imperial Japan. It seemed that Siberia with all its riches was destined to fall completely into the hands of the Japanese. General Baron Tanaka, the Minister of War and Chief of the Japanese Military Intelligence, exulted: “Russian patriotism was extinguished with the revolution. So much the better for us! Henceforth the Soviet can be conquered only by foreign troops in sufficient strength.”
Japan still had more than 70,000 troops in Siberia and hundreds of secret agents, spies, saboteurs and terrorists. White Guard armies in the Russian Far East continued to operate under the supervision of the Japanese High Command. Chief among these anti-Soviet forces was the bandit army of Japan’s Cossack puppet, Ataman Semyonov.
American pressure forced Japan to move cautiously; but on June 8, 1921, the Japanese signed a secret treaty at Vladivostok with Ataman Semyonov, calling for a new, all-out offensive against the Soviets. The treaty stipulated that, after the Soviets were liquidated, Semyonov should assume full civil power. This secret agreement added:
When a stable governmental authority is established in the Far East, Japanese subjects shall receive preferential rights for obtaining hunting, fishing and forestry concessions . . . and for the development of mining resources and gold mines.
One of Semyonov’s chief aides, Baron Ungern-Sternberg, was assigned a major role in the projected military campaign.
It was to be the last White campaign of the war of intervention.
Lieutenant General Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, a pale, effeminate-looking Baltic aristocrat with blond hair and a long, reddish mustache, had entered the Czar’s army as a youth, fought against the Japanese in 1905, and subsequently joined a Cossack police regiment in Siberia. During the First World War, he served under Baron Wrangel and was decorated with the Cross of St. George for valor in combat on the southern front. Among his fellow officers he was notorious for his wild daring, ferocious cruelty and fits of uncontrollable rage.
After the Revolution, Baron Ungern had made his way back to Siberia, and assumed command of a Cossack regiment that pillaged the countryside and carried on sporadic warfare against the local Soviets. He was finally contacted by Japanese agents, who persuaded him to enter Mongolia. They placed at his disposal a motley army of White Russian officers, anti-Soviet Chinese troops, Mongolian bandits and Japanese secret service agents.
Living in an atmosphere of feudal banditry and absolutism at his headquarters in Urga, Ungern began to conceive of himself as a man of destiny. He married a Mongolian princess, abandoned Western dress for a yellow silk Mongolian robe, and pronounced himself the reincarnation of Genghis Khan. Incited by the Japanese agents who always surrounded him, he dreamed of himself as Emperor of a New World Order emanating from the East, which was to descend on Soviet Russia and Europe, destroying with fire and sword and cannon the last traces of “decadent democracy and Jewish Communism.” Sadistic and half-insane, he indulged in countless acts of barbaric savagery. On one occasion he saw a pretty Jewish woman in a small Siberian town and offered a thousand rubles to the man who would bring him her head; the head was brought and duly paid for.
“I will make an avenue with gallows that will stretch from Asia across Europe,” Baron Ungern declared.
At the outset of the 1921 campaign, Baron Ungern issued a proclamation to his men, from his headquarters at Urga, stating:
Mongolia has become the natural starting-point for a campaign against the Red Army in Soviet Siberia. . . .
Commissars, Communists and Jews, together with their families, must be exterminated. Their property must be confiscated. . . . Sentences on guilty parties may either be disciplinary o: take the form of different degrees of the death penalty.
“Truth and mercy” are no longer admissible. Henceforth there can be only “truth and merciless cruelty.” The evil which has fallen upon the land, with the object of destroying the divine principle in the human soul, must be extirpated root and branch.
In the wild and desolate Russian border country, Ungern’s warfare developed as a series of plundering bandit sorties, leaving in their wake smoking villages and the mutilated bodies of men women and children. Towns taken by Ungern’s troops were given up to rape and pillage. Jews, Communists and all suspected of the mildest democratic sympathies were shot, tortured to death and burned alive.
In July 1921, the Red Army launched a drive to exterminate Ungern’s army. After a series of sharp, fluctuating engagements, the Red Army and Soviet guerillas won a decisive victory. Ungern’s hordes fled, abandoning most of their guns, their supply trains and their wounded.
In August, Ungern was surrounded. His own Mongolian bodyguard mutinied and handed hire over to the Soviet troops. The Baron was brought in his silk Mongolian robe to Novo-Nikolayovsk (now Novo-Sibirsk) and put on public trial before the Siberian Soviet Supreme Court as an enemy of the people.
It was an extraordinary trial. . . .
Hundreds of workers, peasants, soldiers -Russians, Siberians, Mongolians and Chinese – jammed the courtroom. Thousands more stood outside in the street. Many of these people had lived through Ungern’s reign of terror; their brothers, children, wives and husbands had been shot, tortured, hurled into the boilers of locomotives.
The Baron took his place and the indictment was read:
In accordance with the decision of the Revolutionarv Committee of Siberia, dated September 12, 1921, LieutenantGeneral Baron Ungern yon Sternberg, formerly commander of the Asiatic cavalry division, is indicted before the Siberian Revolutionary Court on the charges:
1. Of having lent himself to the annexationist aims of Japan through his attempts to create an Asiatic State and to overthrow the government of Transbaikalia;
2. Of having planned to overthrow the Soviet authority with the object of restoring the monarchy in Siberia and the ultimate intention of putting Michael Romanov on the throne;
3. Of having brutally murdered great numbers of Russian peasants and workers and Chinese revolutionaries.
Ungern did not attempt to deny his atrocities. Executions, tortures and massacres – yes, these were all true. The explanation was a simple one: “It was war!” But a puppet of Japan? “,My idea,” Baron Ungern explained, “was to make use of Japan.” Ungern denied that he had any treasonable or intimate relations with the Japanese.
“The accused is lying,” said Soviet Prosecutor Yaroslavsky, “if he claims that he never had any relations with Japan. We hold proof to the contrary!”
“I did communicate with the Japanese,” admitted the Baron, “just as I communicated with Chang Tso-lin.(7) . . . Genghis Khan, too, paid court to Van-Khan before conquering his kingdom!”
“We are not in the twelfth century,” said the Soviet Prosecutor, “and we are not here to judge Genghis Khan!”
“For a thousand years,” cried the Baron, “Ungerns have given other people orders! They have never taken orders from anybody!”
He stared haughtily at the upturned faces of the soldiers, peasants and workers in the courtroom.
“I refuse to admit working-class authority! How can a man who doesn’t even keep a general servant talk about governing? He is incapable of giving orders!”
Prosecutor Yaroslavsky enumerated the long list of Ungern’s crimes – the punitive expeditions against Jews and pro-Soviet peasants, the cutting-off of arms and legs, the night rides across the steppe with flaming corpses for torches, the annihilation of villages, the ruthless massacres of children. . . .
“They were,” coldly explained Ungern, “too Red for my liking.”
“Why did you leave Urga?” asked the Prosecutor.
“I decided to invade Transbaikalia and persuade the peasants to revolt. But I was taken prisoner.”
“Some Mongols betrayed me.”
“Have you ever asked yourself why those men acted as they did?”
“I was betrayed!”
“Do you admit that the end of your campaign was the same as that of all the attempts which have recently been made upon the workers’ authority? Don’t you agree that, of all these attempts to attain the objects you had in view, your attempt was the last?”
“Yes,” said Baron Ungern. “Mine was the last attempt. I suppose I am the last survivor!”
In the month of September 1921, the verdict of the Soviet court was carried out. Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, “the last survivor” of the White war lords, was shot by a Red Army firing squad.
Ataman Semyonov and the remnants of the Japanese puppet army fled across the Soviet border into Mongolia and China.
Not for more than another year was Soviet soil to be finally rid of the Japanese. On October 19, 1922, the Red Army closed in on Vladivostok. The Japanese in occupation of the city surrendered and handed over all their military stores. Japanese transports, carrying the last soldiers of Japan, left Vladivostok the next day. The Red flag was raised over the city.
“The decision to evacuate,” announced the Japanese Foreign Office, “is intended to place Japan on record as a non-aggressive nation, striving to maintain the peace of the world.”
1. The “Whites,” so-called because of their opposition to the revolutionaries whose symbol was the Red Flag, included, according to George Stewart’s authoritative account of their struggle in The White Armies of Russia, all those for whom “Czarism represented the assurance of their status in society, their livelihood, honors, Holy Russia, a social order built upon privilege and force, pleasant in its rewards to the fortunate, comfortable to parasitic groups which found their life in serving it, an ancient system which had its sanction in long centuries when Russia was building.” The term “White Russians” is used in this book to describe those who fought to retain or restore this ancient order in Russia. It must not be confused with the name given to inhabitants of the Soviet Republic of Byelorussia, who are also called White Russians because of their original native costume: white smock, bast shoes with white leggings and white homespun coat.
2. In 1937 the late John Cudahy, a member of the wealthy Chicago meatpacking family, was appointed American Minister to Eire and later, Ambassador to Belgium. An outspoken enemy of Soviet Russia, he afterwards became a leading member of the isolationist America First Committee, which in 1940-41 opposed Lend-Lease aid to nations fighting the Axis.
3. With the aid of von tier Goltz’s well-armed troops, Baron Mannerheim overthrew the Finnish Government and invited Prince Friedrich von Hessen, Kaiser Wilhelm’s son-in-law, to occupy the Finnish throne. To suppress the opposition of the Finnish people, von tier Goltz and Mannerheim instituted a reign of terror. Within a few weeks Mannerheim’s White Guards executed some 20,000 men, women and children; tens of thousands more were thrown in concentration camps and prisons, where many of them died from torture, starvation and exposure.
4. One of the most active British Secret Service agents in the northern campaign was Paul Dukes, a close colleague of Captain Sidney Reilly. Dukes succeeded in getting himself a commission in the Red Army, and served as an anti-Soviet spy and saboteur within the Red forces opposing Yudenitch. When the White Army was attacking Petrograd, Dukes arranged for the blowing up of bridges vital to the retreat of the Red Army, and he countermanded orders for the destruction of communications facilitating the advance of Yudenitch. Dukes kept Yudenitch informed of every move of the Red forces. He was also in close touch with the armed terrorists, remnants of Reilly’s organization, inside Petrograd, who were waiting to aid the Whites the moment they entered the city. After he returned to London, Dukes was knighted for his exploits. Later, he wrote a book, Red Dusk and the Morrow, describing his adventures as a spy in Russia. In collaboration with Sidney Reilly he translated for propagandist purposes Boris Savinkov’s The Pale Norse and various other White Russian or anti-Soviet writings.
5. British troops had been active in the southernmost portion of Russia since July 1918, when the British High Command had sent soldiers from Persia into Turkestan to aid in an anti-Soviet uprising led by Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries. The “Transcaspian Executive Committee,” headed by the counterrevolutionary Noi Jordania, had established a puppet government dominated by the British. An agreement was drawn up by which the British received special rights in the export of cotton and petroleum from this area, in exchange for their aid to the counterrevolutionary forces.
6. Herbert Hoover placed millions of dollars worth of American Relief Administration supplies at the disposal of the Polish Army. On January 4, 1921, Senator James Reed of Missouri charged on the floor of the Senate that $40,000,000 of the Congressional relief funds “was spent to keep the Polish army in the field.” In addition, some $23,000,000 raised by Hoover by popular subscription for aiding children in Central Europe was spent largely in Poland, although the fund appeals published in the United States stated the money was to be equally divided among destitute Austrians, Armenians, and Poles.
The great bulk of the money raised in the United States allegedly for European relief was used to support intervention against the Soviets. Hoover himself made this clear in his report to Congress in January 1921. The Congress had originally appropriated funds for reef primarily in “Central Europe”; but Hoover’s report showed that almost all of the $94,938,417 accounted for was spent in territory immediately adjoining Russia or in those sections of Russia which were under the control of the White Russian armies and the Allied interventionists.
7. Ungern’s “communication” with Chang Tso-lin, the notorious Chinese war lord, included a deal whereby the Baron, for staging a “retreat” before Chang’s forces, was to get 10 per cent of $10,000,000 (Mex.) which Chang extorted from the Pekin Government.
CHAPTER VII – An Accounting
THE two and a half years of bloody intervention and civil war had been responsible for the death through battle, starvation or disease of some 7,000,000 Russian men, women and children. The material losses to the country were later estimated by the Soviet Government at $60,000,000,000, a sum far in excess of the Czarist debt to the Allies. No reparations were paid by the invaders.
Few official figures were given of the cost to the Allied taxpayers of the war against Russia. According to a memorandum issued by Winston Churchill on September 15, 1919, Great Britain to that date had spent nearly £100,000,000 sterling and France between £30,000,000 and £40,000,000 on General Denikin alone. The British campaign in the north cost £18,000,000. The Japanese admitted the expenditure of 900,000,000 yen on the maintenance of their 70,000 troops in Siberia.
What were the motives behind this futile and costly undeclared war?
The White generals were frankly fighting for the restoration of their own Great Russia, for their landed estates, their profits, their class privileges and their epaulettes. There were a few sincere nationalists among them, but the White Armies were overwhelmingly dominated by reactionaries who were the prototypes of the fascist officers and adventurers who were later to emerge in Central Europe.
The war aims of the Allies in Russia were less clear.
The intervention was finally presented to the world by Allied spokesmen, in so far as its motives were publicized at all, as a political crusade against Bolshevism.
Actually, “anti-Bolshevism” played a secondary role. Such factors as north Russian timber, Donetz coal, Siberian gold and Caucasian oil carried more weight. There were also such large scale imperialist interests as the British plan for a Trams-Caucasian Federation which would seal off India from Russia and make possible exclusive British domination of the oil fields of the Near East; the Japanese plan for the conquest and colonization of Siberia; the French plan to gain control in the Donetz and Black Sea areas; and the ambitious long-range German plan to seize the Baltic States and the Ukraine.
One of the very first acts of the Soviet Government on its assumption of power had been to nationalize the great economic trusts of the Czarist Empire. Russian mines, mills, factories, railroads, oil wells and all other large-scale industrial enterprises were declared to be the state property of the Soviet people. The Soviet Government also repudiated the foreign debts incurred by the Czarist regime, partly on the grounds that the monies had been advanced as a deliberate means of aiding Czarism to suppress the popular revolution.(1)
The Czarist Empire, for all its outward show of wealth and power, had actually been a semi-colony of Anglo-French and German financial interests. The French financial stake in Czarism amounted to the sum of 17,591,000,000 francs. Anglo-French interests controlled no less than 72 per cent of Russian coal, iron and steel, and 50 per cent of Russian oil. Annually, several hundreds of millions of francs and pounds in dividends, profits and interest were drawn from the labor of the Russian workers and peasants by foreign interests allied with the Czar.
After the Bolshevik Revolution, the London Stock Exchange Year Book of 1919 recorded under the heading “Russian Accounts”: “Interest due, 1918, and since in arrears.”
British member of Parliament, Lieutenant Colonel Cecil L’Estrange Malone, told the House of Commons during a somewhat heated debate on Allied policy in Russia in 1920: –
There are groups of people and individuals in this country who have money and shares in Russia, and they are the people who are working, scheming and intriguing to overthrow the Bolshevik regime. . . . Under the old regime, it was possible to get ten or twenty per cent out of exploiting the Russian workers and peasants, but under socialism it will not be possible to get anything at all probably, and we find that nearly every great interest to this country in some way or another is connected with Soviet Russia.
The Russian Year Book for 1918, the speaker went on, had estimated combined British and French investments in Russia at approximately £1,600,000,000 sterling, or close to $8,000,000,000.
“When we talk about . . . Marshal Foch and the French people being opposed to peace with Russia,” said Colonel Malone, “we do not mean the French democracy, and we do not mean the French peasants or workers, but the French stockholders. Let us be quite clear about that. We mean the people whose ill-earned savings constitute the £1,600,000,000 which have been sunk in Russia.”
There was the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company, whose Russian interests had included the Ural Caspian Oil Company, the North Caucasian Oilfield, the New Schibareff Petroleum Company and many other oil concerns; there was the great British arms trust of Metro-Vickers which, together with the French Schneider-Creusot and the German Krupp, had virtually controlled the Czarist munitions industry; there were the big banking houses of Britain and France: the Hoares, Baring Brothers, Hambros, Crédit Lyonnais, Société Generale, Rothschilds and Comptoir National d’Escompte de Paris, all of which had invested huge sums in the Czarist regime. . . .
“All these big interests,” Colonel Malone informed the House of Commons, “are interwoven with one another. They are all interested in keeping the war going with Russia. . . . Behind these interests and behind the financiers who sit on the other side of the House are the newspapers and the other influences which go to make up public opinion in this country.”
Some Allied spokesmen were quite frank as to their motives in supporting the White Armies in Russia.
Sir Francis Baker, the European manager of Vickers and chairman of the Executive Committee of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce, addressed a banquet of the British Russia Club attended by leading industrialists and politicians in London in 1919 with these words: –
We wish success to Admiral Kolchak and General Denikin, and I think I cannot do better than raise my glass and ask you all to drink to the health of Admiral Kolchak, General Denikin and General Yudenitch!
Russia is a great country. You all know, because you are intimately connected with it in your business, what the potentialities of Russia are, whether it be from the point or view of manufacture or the point of view of mineral wealth, or any other thing, because Russia has everything. . . .
As Anglo-French troops and munitions poured into Siberia, the Bulletin of the British Federation of Industries, the most powerful association of British industrialists, exclaimed in print: –
Siberia, the most gigantic prize offered to the civilized world since the discovery of the Americas!
As Allied troops drove into the Caucasus and occupied Baku, the British business journal The Near East declared: –
In oil Baku is incomparable. . . . Baku is greater than any other oil city in the world. If oil is king, Baku is its throne!
As the Allied-supported White Army of General Denikin swarmed into the Don coal basin, Messrs. R. Martens and Co., Ltd., the great British coal combine, announced in their trade publication Russia: –
Russia possesses investigated coal reserves second only to the United States. According to the estimate published by the international Geological Congress, she possesses in the Donetz basin (where General Denikin is operating) more than three times the reserves of anthracite of Great Britain and nearly twice the amount at the disposal of the United States.
And finally the Japan Salesman summed up: –
Russia, with her 180,000,000 of people, with her fertile soil stretching from Central Europe across Asia to the shores of the Pacific and from the Arctic down to the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea . . . market possibilities such as even the most optimistic dared not dream of. . . . Russia, potentially and actually – the granary, the fishery, the lumber-yard, the coal, gold, silver and platinum mine of the world!
The Anglo-French and Japanese invaders were attracted by the rich prizes that awaited the conqueror of Russia. American motives, however, were mixed. Traditional American foreign policy, as expressed by Woodrow Wilson and by the War Department, demanded friendship with Russia as a potential ally and counterbalance to German and Japanese Imperialism. American investments in Czarism had been small: but, on the advice of the State Department, several hundreds of millions of American dollars had been subsequently poured into Russia to prop up the shaky Kerensky regime. The State Department continued to support Kerensky, and even to subsidize his “Russian Embassy” in Washington for several years after the Bolshevik Revolution. Certain officials in the State Department co-operated with the White generals and the Anglo-French and Japanese interventionists.
The most notable American to identify himself with the anti-Soviet war was Herbert Hoover, the future President of the United States, who at that time was the American Food Administrator.
A former mining engineer employed by British concerns, prior to the First World War, Herbert Hoover had become a successful entrepreneur in the field of Russian oil wells and mines. The corrupt Czarist regime swarmed with high officials and land owning aristocrats ready to barter their country’s wealth and labor power in return for foreign bribes or a share in the spoils. Hoover had begun his speculation in Russian oil as far back as 1909 when the wells at Maikop were first opened. Within a year, he had floated and secured a major interest in no less than eleven Russian oil companies: –
Maikop Neftyanoi Syndicate
Maikop Shirvansky Oil Company
Maikop Apsheron Oil Company
Maikop and General Petroleum Trust
Maikop Oil and Petroleum Products
Maikop Areas Oil Company
Maikop Valley Oil Company
Maikop Mutual Oil Company
Maikop Hadijensky Syndicate
Maikop New Producers Company
Amalgamated Maikop Oilfields
By 1912, the former mining engineer was associated with the fatuous British multimillionaire, Leslie Urquhart, in three new companies which had been set up to exploit timber and mineral concessions in the Urals and Siberia. Hoover and Urquhart then floated the Russo-Asiatic Corporation and made a deal with two Czarist banks whereby this Corporation would handle all mining prospects in those areas. Russo-Asiatic shares rose from $16.25 in 1913 to $47.50 in 1914. That same year the Corporation obtained three new profitable concessions from the Czarist regime which comprised: –
2,500,000 acres of land, including vast timberlands, and waterpower; estimated gold, copper, silver and zinc reserves of 7,262,000 tons;
12 developed mines; 2 copper smelters; 20 sawmills;
250 miles of railroad;
2 steamships and 29 barges;
blast furnaces, rolling mills, sulphuric acid plants, gold refineries; huge coal reserves.
The total value of these properties was estimated at $1,000,000,000.
After the Bolshevik Revolution all the concessions were abrogated and the mines confiscated by the Soviet Government. A claim for $282,000,000 for damage to properties and loss of probable annual profits was filed with the British Government the following year by Russo-Asiatic Consolidated, a new cartel which Hoover and his partners had formed to take over and protect their Russian interests.
“Bolshevism,” said Herbert Hoover at the Paris Peace Conference, “is worse than war!”
He was to remain one of the world’s bitterest foes of the Soviet Government for the rest of his life. It is a fact, whatever his personal motive may have been, that American food sustained the White armies in Russia and fed the storm troops of the most reactionary regimes in Europe which were engaged in suppressing the upsurge of democracy after the First World War. Thus American relief became a weapon against the peoples’ movements in Europe.(2)
“The whole of American policy during the liquidation of the Armistice was to contribute everything it could to prevent Europe from going Bolshevik or being overrun by their armies,” Hoover later declared in a letter to Oswald Garrison Villard on August 17, 1921. His definition of “Bolshevism” coincided with that of Foch, Pétain, Knox, Reilly and Tanaka. As Secretary of Commerce, as President of the United States, and subsequently as a leader of the isolationist wing of the Republican Party, he fought untiringly to prevent the establishment of friendly commercial and diplomatic relations between America and America’s most powerful ally against world fascism, the Soviet Union.
The armed intervention failed in Russia not only because of the unprecedented solidarity and heroism of the Soviet peoples who were fighting to defend their new-won freedom, but also because of the strong support given the young Soviet Republic by the democratic peoples throughout the world. In France, England and the United States, an aroused public opinion had vigorously opposed the sending of men, arms, food and money to the anti-Soviet armies in Russia. “Hands Off Russia!” committees were formed. Workers struck and soldiers mutinied against the interventionist policies of the General Staffs. Democratic statesmen, journalists, educators and many businessmen protested against the undeclared and unprovoked attack on Soviet Russia.
Sir Henry Wilson, British Chief of Staff, frankly acknowledged the lack of public support of the Allied interventionist policy. On December 1, 1919, in the official British Blue Book, the Chief of Staff wrote: –
The difficulties of the Entente in formulating a Russian policy have, indeed, proved insurmountable, since in no Allied country has there been a sufficient weight of public opinion to justify armed intervention against the Bolsheviks on a decisive scale, with the inevitable result that military operations have lacked cohesion and purpose.
The victory of the Red Army over its enemies thus represented at the same time an international victory for the democratic peoples of all countries.
A final reason for the failure of the intervention was the lack of unity among the invaders. The instigators of the intervention represented a coalition of world reaction, but it was a coalition without genuine co-operation. Imperialist rivalries rended the imperialist coalition. The British feared French ambitions in the Black Sea and German ambitions in the Baltic area. The Americans Remove hard returnfound it necessary to frustrate Japanese aims in Siberia. The White generals quarreled among themselves over the spoils. The war of intervention, begun in secrecy and dishonesty, ended in shameful disaster.
Its legacy of hatred and mistrust was to poison the atmosphere of Europe for the next quarter of a century.
(1) After the terrible anti-Semitic pogroms perpetrated in 1906 by the Black Hundreds in connivance with the Czarist secret police, Anatole France vehemently denounced those French financiers who continued to make loans to the Czar’s regime. “Let our fellow citizens at last have ears to hear,” declared the famous French author. “They are warned; a very evil day may come for them, if they lend money again to the Russian Government, in order that it may shoot, hang, massacre pillage at will, and kill all liberty and civilization throughout the length of its immense unhappy empire. Citizens of France, give no more money for new cruelties and follies; give no more milliards for the martyrdom of countless peoples.” But the French financiers did not heed Anatole France’s passionate plea. They continued to invest millions in Czarism.
(2) Until August 1921, Herbert Hoover’s activities as Food Relief Administrator were directed toward giving direct aid to the White Russian armies and withholding all supplies from the Soviets. Hundreds of thousands starved in Soviet territory. When, finally, Hoover was compelled to bow to American public pressure and send some food to the Soviets, he continued – according to a statement by a Near East Relief official in the New York World in April 1922 – to “interfere with the collection of funds for famine-stricken Russia.” In February 1922, when Hoover was Secretary of Commerce, the New York Globe made this editorial comment: “Bureaucrats centered throughout the Department of Justice, the Department of State and the Department of Commerce for purposes of publicity are carrying on a private war with the Bolshevist Government. . . . Washington propaganda has grown to menacing proportions. . . . Messrs. Hughes and Hoover and Dougherty will do well to clean their houses before public irritation reaches too high a point. The American people will not long endure a presumptuous bureaucracy which for its own wretched purposes is willing to let millions of innocent people die.”