The Great Conspiracy: the secret war against soviet Russia
by Albert E. Kahn and Michael Sayers
Book Two: Secrets of the Cordon Sanitaire
CHAPTER VIII – The White Crusade
1. The Ferment of the Aftermath
THE first round of the war against Soviet Russia had ended in something very like a draw. The Soviet Government was in undisputed possession of most of its own territories; but it was ostracized by the other nations, bound in by a cordon sanitaire of hostile puppet states, and cut off from normal political and commercial intercourse with the rest of the world. Officially, the Soviet one sixth of the earth did not exist – it was “not recognized.”
At home, the Soviet Government was confronted with an economic wilderness of smashed factories, flooded mines, ruined agriculture, wrecked transport, disease, famine, and almost universal illiteracy. To the bankrupt heritage of the feudal Czarist regime had been added the debris of seven years of ceaseless war, revolution, counterrevolution and foreign invasion.
The world outside the Soviet borders was still searching for peace, and not finding it. The English statesman, Bonar Law, relating the conditions of the world four years after the signing of the Versailles Peace, told the House of Commons that no less than twenty-three wars were still being waged in different parts of the world. Japan had occupied regions of China and brutally suppressed the Korean independence movement; British troops were putting down popular rebellions in Ireland, Afghanistan, Egypt and India; the French were engaged in open warfare with the Druse tribes in Syria, who, to French chagrin, were armed with machine guns from the British factories of Metro-Vickers; the German General Staff, operating behind the facade of the Weimar Republic, was conspiring to wipe out democratic German elements and to resurrect Imperialist Germany.
Every country in Europe seethed with feverish plots and counter-plots of fascists, nationalists, militarists and monarchists, all promoting their own ends under the general mask of “Anti-Bolshevism.”
A secret memorandum, drafted in those early postwar years by the British Foreign Office, described the state of Europe in these words: –
Europe today is divided into three main elements, namely, the victors, the vanquished, and Russia. The feeling of uncertainty which is sapping the health of Western Europe is caused to no small extent by the disappearance of Russia as a power, accountable in the European concert. The most menacing of our uncertainties.
All our late enemies continue, full of resentment at what they have lost; all our late Allies are fearful of losing what they have won. One half of Europe is dangerously angry, the other half is dangerously afraid. Fear begets provocation, armaments, secret alliances, ill-treatment of minorities. These in turn beget a greater hatred, and stimulate a desire for revenge, whereby fear is intensified and its consequences are enhanced. The vicious circle is thus established.
Although Germany is at present quite incapable of undertaking aggressive action, it is certain that with great military chemical potentialities she will sooner or later again become a powerful military factor. There are but few Germans who seriously hope to exert this strength, when reacquired, against the British Empire.
While the British Foreign Office was complacently contemplating the rearmament of Germany and devoting its attention to Russia as the “most menacing of our uncertainties,” across the Atlantic, amid the hysteria and confusion of the post-Wilsonian era, the United States was dreaming of “glorious isolation.” The great American illusion of the time was summed up in the phrase “a return to normalcy.” According to Walter Lippmann, then writing for the New York World, “normalcy” consisted of the following beliefs: –
That the fate of America is in no important way connected with the fate of Europe.
That Europe should stew in its own juice. . . .
That we can sell to Europe, without buying from Europe. . . . and that if Europe doesn’t like she can lump it, but she had better not.
Walter Lippmann concluded: –
Out of the fears and in the midst of this disorder a kind of hysteria has been generated. It has evoked armies, crazy tariffs, wildcat diplomacy, every variety of morbid nationalism Fascisti and Ku-Kluxers. . . .
In spite of the unrest, war weariness and economic anarchy still prevailing in Europe, new plans for the military invasion of Soviet Russia continued to be drawn up and assiduously studied by the General Staffs of Poland, Finland, Rumania, Yugoslavia, France, England, and Germany.
The frantic anti-Soviet propaganda went on.
Four years after the great war that was to end all wars, all the elements existed for the making of a second world war to be launched against world democracy under the slogan of “anti-Bolshevism.”
2. White Russian Exodus
With the debacle of the White armies of Kolchak, Yudenitch, Denikin, Wrangel and Semyonov, the immense archaic structure of Czarism had undergone its final collapse, scattering far and wide the turbid elements of savagery, barbarism and reaction which it had so long sheltered. The ruthless adventurers, the decadent aristocrats, the professional terrorists, the bandit soldiery, the dreaded secret police and all the other feudal and antidemocratic forces that had constituted the White Counterrevolution now spilled out of Russia like a muddy, turbulent stream. Westward, eastward and southward, through Europe and the Far East, into North and South America, it flowed, bringing with it the sadism of the White Guard generals, the pogromist doctrines of the Black Hundreds, the fierce contempt of Czarism for democracy, the dark hatreds, prejudices and neuroses of old Imperial Russia.
The Protocols of Zion, the anti-Semitic forgeries by which the Ochrana had incited massacres of the Jews and the bible by which the Black Hundreds explained all the ills of the world in terms of an “international Jewish plot,” were now circulated publicly in London and New York, Paris and Buenos Aires, Shanghai and Madrid.
Wherever the White émigrés went, they fertilized the soil for the World Counterrevolution – Fascism.
By 1923 there were half a million White Russians living in Germany. More than 400,000 had migrated to France, and 90,000 to Poland. Other tens of thousands had settled in the Baltic and Balkan States, in China and Japan, in Canada, the United States and South America. Three thousand White Russian officers and their families had settled in New York City alone.
The total number of Russian émigré was estimated at between one and a half and two million. (1)
Under the supervision of a Russian Military Union, which had its headquarters in Paris, armed units of White Russians were established throughout Europe, the Far East, and America. They openly announced they were preparing for a new invasion of Soviet Russia.
The French Government founded a naval training school for White Russians at the North African port of Bizerte, where thirty ships from the Czarist fleet had been dispatched with crews of 6000 officers and men. The Yugoslavian Government established special academies for the training of former officers of the Czar’s Army and their sons. Large detachments from Baron Wrangel’s Army were transferred intact into the Balkans. Eighteen thousand Cossacks and cavalrymen were sent into Yugoslavia. Seventeen thousand White Russian troops went to Bulgaria. Thousands more were stationed in Greece and Hungary. White Guard Russians took over entire branches of the secret police apparatus in the anti-Soviet Baltic and Balkan States, moved into key government posts and assumed control of many of the espionage agencies.
With the assistance of Marshal Pilsudski, the Russian terrorist Boris Savinkov organized a White Army of 30,000 men in Poland. Ataman Semyonov, after being driven from Siberia, fled with the remnants of his armies into Japanese territory. His troops were provided with new uniforms and equipment by Tokyo, and were reorganized into a special White Russian Army under the supervision of the Japanese High Command.
Baron Wrangel, General Denikin and the pogromist Simon Petlura settled in Paris, where they became immediately involved in diverse anti-Soviet plots. Generals Krasnov and the Hetman Skoropadsky, who had collaborated with the Kaiser’s army in the Ukraine, went to live in Berlin, and were taken under the wing of the German Military Intelligence.(2)
In 1920 a small group of immensely wealthy Russian émigrés, all of whom had maintained huge investments in France and other foreign countries, came together in Paris and founded an organization which was destined to play a major role in future conspiracies against Soviet Russia. The organization, which was given the name of the Torgprom, or Russian Trade, Financial and Industrial Committee, consisted of former Czarist bankers, industrialists and businessmen. Among its members were G. N. Nobel, who had held a controlling interest in Russia’s Baku oil fields; Stepan Lianozov, the Russian “Rockefeller”; Vladimir Riabushinsky, a member of the famous family of Czarist merchants; N. C. Denisov, whose immense fortune had been amassed in the steel industry; and other Russian economic royalists whose names were famous in industrial and financial circles throughout the world.
Associated with these men in the Torgprom were British, French and German interests which had not abandoned hopes of retrieving their lost Russian investments or gaining new concessions as a result of the overthrow of the Soviet regime.
“The Torgprom”, stated Denisov, the chairman of the organization, “has made it its aim to fight the Bolsheviks on the economic front in every manner and form.” Torgprom members were interested, as Nobel phrased it, “in the early resurrection of the fatherland and in the possibility of soon being able to work in the fatherland.”
The Torgprom’s anti-Soviet operations were not limited to the economic front. An official statement issued by the Torgprom announced: –
The Trade and Industrial Committee will continue its unremitting struggle against the Soviet Government, will continue to enlighten the public opinion of cultured countries as to the true significance of the events taking place in Russia and to prepare for the future revolt in the name of freedom and truth.
3. A Gentleman from Reval
In June 1921, a group of former Czarist officers, industrialists and aristocrats called an International Anti-Soviet Conference at the Reichenhalle in Bavaria. The conference, which was attended by representatives from anti-Soviet organizations throughout Europe, drew up plans for a world-wide campaign of agitation against Soviet Russia.
A “Supreme Monarchist Council” was elected by the Conference. Its function was to work for “the restoration of the monarchy, headed by the lawful sovereign of the Romanov house, in accordance with the fundamental laws of the Russian Empire.”
The infant National Socialist Party of Germany sent a delegate to the Conference. His name was Alfred Rosenberg. . . .
A slender, pale-faced young man with thin lips, dark hair, and a weary, brooding expression, Alfred Rosenberg had begun frequenting the beer halls of Munich in the summer of 1919. He could usually be found at the Augustinerbrau or at the Franziskanerbrau, where he sat alone for hours on end at one of the tables in a corner. Occasionally companions joined him and then, although he greeted them with little warmth, his manner would brighten, and his dark eyes would come to life and gleam in his chalky face as he started talking in a low, passionate voice. He spoke Russian and German with equal fluency.
Rosenberg was the son of a Baltic landowner who had owned a large estate near the Czarist port of Reval. His father claimed descent from the Teutonic Knights who had invaded the Baltic States in the Middle Ages; and young Rosenberg proudly regarded himself as a German. Before the Revolution in Russia, he had studied architecture at the Polytechnikum in Moscow. He had fled from Soviet territory when the Bolsheviks seized power and joined the ranks of the White Guard terrorists fighting under General Count Rüdiger von der Goltz in the Baltic area. In 1919 Rosenberg had turned up in Munich, his mind teeming with the anti-democratic and anti-Semitic doctrines of the Czarist Black Hundreds.
A small group of White Guard émigré and dispossessed Baltic barons began gathering regularly in Munich to hear Rosenberg’s intense, venomous tirades against the Communists and the Jews. His audience usually included Prince Avalov-Bermondt, Rasputin’s former friend, who had been General von der Goltz’s most brutal White Guard commander in the Baltic area; Barons Schneuber-Richter and Arno von Schickedanz, two decadent and ruthless Baltic aristocrats; and Ivan-Poltavetz-Ostranitza, a Ukrainian pogromist, who had been Minister of Communications in the Ukrainian government of the Kaiser’s puppet, Hetman Paul Skoropadsky. These men shared Rosenberg’s Black Hundred views on the decadence of democracy and the international conspiracy of the Jews.
“At bottom every Jew is a Bolshevik!” was the constant theme of Rosenberg’s tirades.
Out of Alfred Rosenberg’s dark tortured mind, his pathological hatred for the Jews and frenzied enmity toward the Soviets, there was gradually evolving a world philosophy of counterrevolution, compounded of the fanatical prejudices of Czarist Russia and the imperialistic ambitions of Germany. The salvation of the world from “decadent Jewish democracy and Bolshevism,” Rosenberg wrote in The Myth of the Twentieth Century, was to begin “in Germany” with the creation of a new German state. “It is the duty of the founder of the new State,” he added, “to form an association of men on the lines of the Teutonic Order.”
A race of German supermen was to carry out the task of a world conquest: “The meaning of world history has radiated from the north, borne by a blue-eyed blond race which in several waves determined the spiritual face of the world.”
The idea of a holy crusade against Soviet Russia dominated all of Rosenberg’s writings. He longed for the apocalyptic day when the mighty armies of the new “Teutonic Order” would pour across the Russian frontiers and smash the hateful Bolsheviks. “From west to east is the direction,” he declared, “from the Rhine to the Weichsel, ‘from west to east’ it must resound, from Moscow to Tomsk.”
Germany was passing through its period of bitter postwar crisis, of mass unemployment, of unprecedented inflation and widespread hunger. Behind the democratic facade of the Weimar Republic, which had been established in collusion with the German High Command after the bloody suppression of the German workers’ and soldiers’ soviets, a cabal of Prussian militarists, Junkers and industrial magnates were furtively planning the rebirth and expansion of Imperial Germany. Unknown to the rest of the world, Germany’s future rearmament program was being carefully mapped out by hundreds of engineers, draftsmen and special technicians, working under the supervision of the German High Command, in a secret research and planning laboratory constructed by the firm of Borsig(3) in a forest outside Berlin.
Supposedly, the German Military Intelligence, Section IIIB, had been disbanded at the conclusion of the war. Actually, it had been reorganized with lavish funds supplied by Krupp, Hugenherg and Thyssen and was busily functioning under the supervision of its old anti-Semitic chief, Colonel Walther Nicolai.
The plans for Germany’s new war were being elaborately and diligently prepared. . . .
Among the chief financial contributors to the secret campaign for rejuvenating German Imperialism was a suave, energetic industrialist whose name was Arnold Rechberg. A former personal adjutant of the Crown Prince and a close friend of the members of the old Imperial High Command, Rechberg was associated with the great German potash trust. He was one of the chief promoters of the secret German nationalist and anti-Semitic leagues. It was this avocation that drew his attention to Alfred Rosenberg.
Rechberg arranged to meet Rosenberg. Taking an immediate liking to the counterrevolutionary zealot from Reval, Rechberg introduced him to another of his proteges, a thirty-year-old Austrian rabble-rouser and Reichswehr spy named Adolf Hitler.
Rechberg was already providing funds to buy the uniforms and to meet various other expenses of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party. Now Rechberg and his wealthy friends purchased an obscure newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, and turned it over to the Nazi movement. The publication became the official organ of the Nazi Party. As its editor, Hitler appointed Alfred Rosenberg. . . .
On New Year’s Day, 1921, ten days after the Völkischer Beobachter had become the property of the Nazis, the paper outlined the basic foreign policy of Hitler’s Party: –
And when the time comes and the storm is brewing over the eastern marches of Germany, it will be a case of collecting a hundred thousand men who are prepared to sacrifice their lives there. . . . Those who are determined to dare all must be prepared for the attitude of the Western Jews . . . who will raise woeful voices when the Eastern Jews are attacked.
. . . What is certain is that the Russian army will be driven back across its frontiers after a second Tannenberg. That is a purely German affair and the real beginning of our reconstruction.
The editorial was written by Alfred Rosenberg.
Out of the merger of feudal Czarism and the reborn twentieth century German Imperialism, Nazism was taking form. . . .
4. The Hoffmann Plan
Alfred Rosenberg was to supply the political ideology of the German Nazi Party. Another of Rechberg’s friends, General Max Hoffmann, was to provide the military strategy.
General Max Hoffmann had spent much of his youth in Russia as an attaché at the Court of the Czar. He had come to speak Russian more fluently than German. In 1905, as a thirty-five-year-old captain newly appointed to General von Schlieffen’s staff, he had served as German liaison officer with the First Japanese Army in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. Hoffmann never forgot what he saw on the Manchurian plains – a seemingly limitless front, and a compact, perfectly trained attacking force cutting “like a knife through butter” into a far larger defending army that had huge reserves, but was cumbersome and ill-led.
At the start of the First World War, Hoffmann was appointed Chief of Operations of the Eighth German Army stationed in East Prussia to meet the anticipated Russian blow. The strategy which brought about the Czarist debacle at Tannenberg was later credited by military authorities not to Hindenburg or Ludendorff, but to Hoffmann. After Tannenberg, Hoffmann became the commander of the German forces on the Eastern Front. He witnessed the collapse of the Imperial Russian Army. At Brest-Litovsk, he dictated Germany’s peace terms to the Soviet delegation.
In two wars, Hoffmann had seen the Russian Army in action, and each time he had witnessed its crushing defeat. The Red Army, in Hoffmann’s opinion, was only the old Russian Army “decomposed into a rabble.”
In the early spring of 1919, General Max Hoffmann had presented himself at the Paris Peace Conference with his ready-made Plan for a march on Moscow to be headed by the German Army. From Hoffmann’s viewpoint his Plan had a double advantage: it would not only “save Europe from Bolshevism”; it would at the same time save the German Imperial Army and prevent its dissolution. A modified forth of Hoffmann’s Plan had been endorsed by Marshal Foch.
On November 22, 1919, General Hoffmann declared in an interview with the London Daily Telegraph: “During the past two years I have gradually come to the conclusion that Bolshevism is the greatest danger that has threatened Europe for centuries. . . .” Hoffmann’s memoirs, The War o f Lost Opportunities, bewailed the world’s failure to march on Moscow according to the original conception of his Plan.
Following a visit to General Hoffmann in Berlin in 1923, the British Ambassador Lord D’Abernon recorded in his diplomatic diary: –
All his opinions are governed by his general conception that nothing can go right in the world until the civilized Powers of the West come together and hang the Soviet Government.
…Asked if he believed in the possibility of any unity between France, Germany and England to attack Russia, he replied: “It is such a necessity, it must come!”
In the postwar years, after the failure of armed intervention against Soviet Russia, Hoffmann brought out a new version of his Plan, and began circulating it, in the form of a confidential Memorandum among the General Staffs of Europe. The Memorandum immediately aroused keen interest in Europe’s growing pro-fascist circles. Marshal Foch and his Chief of Staff, Pétain, both of whom were close personal friends of Hoffmann, expressed their warm approval of the revised Plan. Among the other personalities who gave the Plan their endorsement were Franz yon Papen, General Baron Karl yon Mannerheim, Admiral Horthy and the British Director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral Sir Barry Domvile.
The Hoffmann Plan, in its later versions, gained the backing of a large and powerful section of the German High Command, although it clearly represented a radical departure from the traditional Bismarckian school of German military and political strategy’ The new Hoffmann Plan projected a German alliance with France, Italy, England and Poland, based on a common cause against Soviet Russia. Strategically, in the words of a prescient European commentator, Ernst Henri, in his book, Hitler Over Russia, the plan called for
concentration of new armies on the Vistula and the Dvina on the model of Napoleon; lightning march, under German command, on the retreating Bolshevik hordes; occupation of Leningrad and Moscow in the course of a few weeks; final clean-up of the country down to the Urals – and so the salvation of an exhausted civilization through the conquest of half a continent.
The whole of Europe, under German leadership, was to be mobilized and hurled against the Soviet Union.
(1) Not all the refugees were counterrevolutionaries. Thousands of confused and uprooted people, terrified by an elemental upheaval they could not comprehend, had joined the mass exodus. Moving from one country to another, they strove desperately to earn a living in a strange new world. Some became taxicab drivers, waiters, maids, nightclub entertainers, cooks, guides. Many, facing starvation in the cities of western Europe, became beggars. The brothels of Harbin, Shanghai and Peking teemed with White Russian refugees.
(2) The subsequent careers of many of the generals who led the foreign armies of intervention against Soviet Russia are of considerable interest. The Czech generals, Sirovy and Gayda, returned to Prague where the former became Commander-in-Chief of the Czech Army and the latter Chief of Staff. In 1926 General Gayda participated in an abortive fascist coup d’etat and subsequently was involved in other fascist conspiracies. General Sirovy played the role of the key Czech military Quisling in 1938. The British General Knox returned to England to become a Tory member of Parliament, a violent anti-Soviet agitator and a founder of the Friends of Nationalist Spain, an agency which spread Spanish fascist propaganda in England on behalf of Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Foch, Petain, Weygand, Mannerheim, Tanaka, Hoffmann and other interventionist generals became leaders in anti-Soviet and fascist movements during the postwar period.
(3) For Borsig’s subsidization of subsequent fifth column operations in the Soviet Union, see page 223.
(4) At first General Hans von Seeckt, commander of the German Reichswehr, opposed the Hoffmann Plan. Seeckt dreamed of a war of revenge against the West, in which he hoped to be able to use Russian raw materials and manpower. He believed he could come to terms with the opposition elements in the Red Army and Soviet Government. Later, Seeckt gave his backing to the Hoffmann Plan and became a Nazi.
CHAPTER lX – The Strange Career of a Terrorist
1. The Return of Sidney Reilly
BERLIN, December 1922. A German naval officer and a British Intelligence officer were chatting in the crowded lounge of the famous Hotel Adlon with a young, pretty, fashionably dressed woman. She was a London musical comedy star, Pepita Bobadilla, otherwise known as Mrs. Chambers, widow of the successful British dramatist, Haddon Chambers. The subject of espionage came up. The Englishman began talking about the extraordinary exploits in Soviet Russia of a British Intelligence agent to whom he referred as Mr. C. The German was familiar with Mr. C.’s reputation. They regaled one another with anecdotes of his fabulous adventures. Finally, unable to restrain her curiosity any longer, Mrs. Chambers asked, “Who is this Mr. C.?”
“Who is he not?” replied the Englishman. “I tell you, Mrs. Chambers, this Mr. C. is a man of mystery. He is the most mysterious man in Europe. And incidentally I should say he has a bigger price on his head than any man breathing. The Bolsheviks would give a province for him dead or alive. . . . He’s a man that lives on danger. He has been our eyes and ears in Russia on many an occasion, and, between ourselves, he alone is responsible for Bolshevism not being a bigger danger to Western civilization than it is at present.”
Mrs. Chambers was eager to hear more about the mysterious Mr. C. Her companion smiled. “I saw him this afternoon,” the Englishman said. “He’s staying here in the Adlon Hotel. . . .”
That same evening Mrs. Chambers had her first glimpse of Mr. C. He was, she later wrote, “a well-groomed and well tailored figure” with “a lean, rather sombre face” and “an expression, which might almost have been sardonic, the expression of a man, who not once, but many times had laughed in the face of death.” Mrs. Chambers fell in love with him at first sight.
They were introduced. Mr. C. talked to Mrs. Chambers that evening “of the state of Europe, of Russia, of the Cheka,” above all, of the “menace of Bolshevism.” He told Mrs. Chambers his real name: Captain Sidney George Reilly. . . .
Following the debacle of his 1918 conspiracy against the Soviets. Sidney Reilly had been sent back to Russia by the British Secretary of War, Winston Churchill, to help organize the espionage service of General Denikin. Reilly also acted as liaison between Denikin and his various European anti-Soviet allies. During 1919 and 1920, the British spy had worked diligently in Paris, Warsaw and Prague, organizing anti-Soviet armies and espionage-sabotage agencies. Later, he served as a semiofficial agent for some of the Czarist émigré millionaires, including his old friend and employer, Count Tchubersky. One of the more ambitious projects Reilly helped launch during this period was the Torgprom, the cartel of the Czarist émigré industrialists and their Anglo-French and German partners.
As a result of his financial operations, Reilly had amassed a considerable personal fortune and held directorships in a number of firms formerly associated with Russian big business. He had developed important international contacts, and counted among his personal friends Winston Churchill, General Max Hoffmann and the Finnish Chief of Staff Wallenius.
The British spy’s fanatical hatred of Soviet Russia had not diminished. The annihilation of Bolshevism was now the dominating motive of his life. His passionate interest in Napoleon, the would-be conqueror of Russia, had led him to become one of the world’s most enthusiastic collectors of Napoleonana. The value of his collection ran into the tens of thousands of dollars. The personality of the Corsican dictator fascinated him.
“A Corsican lieutenant of artillery trod out the embers of the French Revolution,” said Sidney Reilly. “Surely a British espionage agent with so many factors on his side, could make himself master of Moscow?”
On May 18, 1923, Mrs. Chambers was married to Captain Sidney Reilly at the Registry Office in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, in London. Captain George Hill, Reilly’s old accomplice from Moscow days, acted as witness.
Mrs. Chambers was soon participating in the fantastic intrigues of her husband’s life. She later wrote: –
Gradually I was initiated into those strange proceedings which were going on behind the scenes of European politics. I learned how beneath the surface of every capital in Europe was simmering the conspiracy of the exiles against the present tyrants of their country. In Berlin, in Paris, in Prague, in London itself, small groups of exiles were plotting, planning, conspiring. Helsingfors [Helsinki] was absolutely seething with counter-revolution, which had been financed and abetted by several of the governments of Europe. In this whole movement Sidney was intensely interested and was devoting much time and money to the cause.
One day a mysterious visitor presented himself at Sidney Reilly’s London apartment. He first introduced himself as “Mr. Warner.” He had a great black beard which almost concealed his entire face, prominent cheekbones and cold, steely-blue eyes. He was a huge man, and his long loose arms hung almost to his knees. He produced his credentials. They included a British passport, a voucher, written and signed in Paris by the Social Revolutionary leader, Boris Savinkov, and a letter of introduction by a prominent British statesman.
“I shall be in London about a week,” the visitor told Reilly, “conferring with your Foreign Office.”
“Mr. Warner” then revealed his identity. His real name was Drebkov, and he had been the leader of one of the “Fives” groups in Reilly’s anti-Soviet conspiratorial apparatus in Russia in 1918. He now was head of a White Russian underground organization In Moscow.
“That was a fine organization you had in Russia, Captain Reilly,” said Drebkov. “We picked up the strands again! We have got it working again. All your old agents are there. You remember Balkov? He’s with us. . . . Some day or outer we overthrow the Redskins, and the good tittles begin again. But you know what we Russians are. We scheme and scheme and scheme, and build wonderful plot after wonderful plot, and quarrel among ourselves over irrelevant details, and golden opportunity after golden opportunity slips by, and nothing is done. Pall!” Drebkov came to the point of his visit. “We want a man in Russia, Captain Reilly,” he said, “a man who can command and get things done, whose commands there is no disputing, a man who will be master, a dictator, if you like, as Mussolini is in Italy, a man who will compose the feuds which disunite our friends there with an iron hand and will weld us into the weapon that will smite the present tyrants of Russia to the heart!”
“What about Savinkov?” asked Sidney Reilly. “He is in Paris, the very man for you, a really great man, a great personality, a born leader and organizer!”
Mrs. Reilly, recording the interview in her memoirs, wrote: –
I could read in Sidney’s tone how great was the sacrifice he was making in handing over this business to Savinlcov, the Russian leader, whom he admired so wholeheartedly.
2.”A Business Like Any Other! “
Boris Savinlcov, who by 1924 was being seriously considered in the inner policy-staking circles at Downing Street and the Quai d’Orsay as the future Dictator of Russia, was in many ways one of the most remarkable men to emerge from the chaos of the collapse of Old Russia. A slight, pallid, baldish, soft-spoken man, who was usually impeccably dressed in a frock coat and patent-leather boots, Savinlcov looked more like “the manager of a bank,” as Somerset Maugham once said, than the famous terrorist and ruthless counterrevolutionary he really was. His talents were many and diverse. Winston Churchill, to whom Savinkov was first introduced by Sidney Reilly, later described the Russian terrorist in his book Great Contemporaries as displaying “the wisdom of a statesman, the qualities of a commander, the courage of a hero, and the endurance of a martyr.” Savinkov’s whole life, adds Churchill, “had been spent in conspiracy.”
As a young titan in Czarist Russia, Savinkov had been a leading Member of the Social Revolutionary Party. Together with four other leaders he headed the Party’s Battle Organization, a special terrorist committee responsible for arranging the assassination of Czarist officials. The Grand Duke Sergei, uncle of the Czar, and the Minister of the Interior, V. K. Plehve, were among the Czarist officials killed by the Battle Organization in the early 1900’s.(1)
After the failure of the first attempt to overthrow Czarism in 1905, Boris Savinkov became somewhat disillusioned with the life of a revolutionary. He began to devote himself to literature. He wrote a sensational autobiographical novel, The Pale Horse, in which lie described his role in the assassinations of Plehvc and the Grand Duke Sergei. He related how, disguised as a British agent, he sat in a little house on a Russian side street, with a forged British passport in his pocket and “3 kilograms of dynamite under the table,” waiting day after day for the Grand Duke’s carriage to pass down the street.
Years later, during the First World War, when the British novelist, Somerset Maughan was sent into Russia by the British Secret Service to establish contact with Savinkov, (2) he asked the Russian terrorist if it had not taken great courage to carry out these assassinations. Savinkov replied: –
“Not at all, believe me. It is a business, like any other. One gets accustomed to it.”
In June 1917, Boris Savinkov, professional assassin and novelist, was appointed by Kerensky, on the advice of his Allied advisers, to the post of Political Commissar of the 7th Army on the Galician Front. The troops of this army group were mutinying against the Provisional Government, and it was thought Savinkov’s strong-arm methods were needed to cope with the situation. Savinkov quelled the disturbance. On one occasion, he was reported to have shot with his own hands the delegates from a Bolshevik Soldiers’ Council. . . .
At Savinkov’s insistence Kerensky made General Kornilov Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armies. Savinkov himself was appointed Assistant Minister of War. He was already acting as a secret agent of the French Government and was plotting to overthrow the Kerensky regime and establish a military dictatorship under Kornilov.
After the Bolshevik Revolution, Savinkov led an anti-Soviet uprising at Yaroslav secretly financed by the French and timed to coincide with Sidney Reilly’s attempted coup d’etat in Moscow. Savinkov’s forces were smashed by the Red Army, and he barely escaped with his life. Fleeing the country, he became one of the diplomatic representatives of the White Russians in Europe. As winston Churchill wrote about Savinkov in Great Contempo-raries: “Responsible for all the relations with the Allies and with not the less important Baltic and Border states which formed at that time the `Sanitary Cordon’ of the west, the ex-Nihilist displayed every capacity whether for command or for intrigue.”
In 1920, Savinkov moved to Poland. With the aid of his good friend Marshal Pilsudski, he collected some 30,000 officers and men, armed them and began training them in preparation for another assault against Soviet Russia.
Subsequently, Savinkov moved his headquarters to Prague. There, working closely with the Czech fascist General Gayda, Savinkov created an organization known as the Green Guards, composed largely of former Czarist officers and counterrevolutionary terrorists. The Green Guards launched a series of raids across the Soviet borders, robbing, pillaging, burning farms, massacring workers and peasants, and murdering the local Soviet officials. In this activity Savinkov had the close co-operation of various European secret service agencies.
One of Savinkov’s aides, a Social Revolutionary terrorist named Fomitchov, set up a branch of Savinkov’s conspiratorial and terrorist apparatus in Vilna, the former Lithuanian capital, which had been seized by the Poles in 1920. Fomitchov’s group, with the aid of the Polish Intelligence, began forming secret cells on Soviet territory to carry on espionage work and to assist terrorist groups sent in from Poland, equipped with arms, money and forged documents by the Polish authorities.
Later, in a letter to Izvestia on September 17, 1924, Fomitchov gave this description of the operations carried on by his group: –
When these spies and detachments returned after the murders which they had been sent to perpetrate, I was the intermediary between them and the Polish authorities, for it was I who handed over to the latter the stolen documents and espionage material. This is how the detachments of Sergei Pavlovsky, Trubnikov, Monitch, Daniel, Ivanov and other smaller detachments, as well as single spies and terrorists were sent to Soviet Russia. Among other things, I remember how Colonel Svezhevsky was sent to Russia in 1922 with the injunction to kill Lenin. . . .
Savinkov’s ruthless methods, magnetic personality and unusual organizational talents held tremendous appeal for those White Russian émigrés and anti-Soviet European statesmen who still dreamed of overthrowing the Soviet Government. Occasionally, however, these persons felt a mild embarrassment because of Savinkov’s record. In Paris, in 1919, when Winston Churchill was negotiating with the former Czarist Prime Minister Sazonov, the question of Savinkov came up. Churchill later described the incident in his book Great Contemporaries.
“How do you get on with Savinkov?” asked Churchill.
The Czar’s former chief Minister made a deprecating gesture with his hands. “He is an assassin! I am astonished to be working with him! But what is one to do? He is a man most competent, full of resource and resolution. No one is so good!”
3. Sunday at Chequers
In 1922 famine was raging in the devastated regions of Russia, and it seemed that the imminent collapse of the Soviet Government was inevitable. European statesmen, White Russian émigrés and political oppositionists inside Soviet Russia were busily drawing up secret pacts and organizing new Russian cabinets ready to assume office at a moment’s notice. Intensive discussions were going on regarding a potential Russian dictator. Captain Sidney Reilly brought Savinkov to Winston Churchill.
Churchill had long been intrigued with the personality of this “literary assassin,” as he called him. Agreeing with Reilly that Savinkov was a man “to be entrusted with the command of great undertakings,” Churchill decided to introduce him to the British Prime Minister, Lloyd George. A confidential conference was arranged to take place at Chequers, the country retreat of British Prime Ministers in office.
Churchill and Savinkov motored out to Chequers together. “It was a Sunday,” relates Churchill in Great Contemporaries. “The Prime Minister was entertaining several leading Free Church divines, and was himself surrounded by a band of Welsh singers who had travelled from their native principality to do him choral honors. For several hours they sang Welsh hymns in the most beautiful manner. Afterwards we had our talk.”
But Lloyd George was not inclined to be stampeded into having the British Government sponsor Boris Savinkov. In Lloyd George’s opinion, the “worst was over” in Russia. The Bolshevik experiment – socialist control of the country’s industries – would, of course, fail. The Bolshevik leaders, “confronted with the responsibilities of actual government,” would give up their Communist theories or, “like Robespierre and St. Just [sic],” would quarrel among themselves and fall from power.
As for the “world Communist menace,” about which Churchill and the British Intelligence Service seemed to be so agitated, it simply did not exist, said Lloyd George. . . .
“Mr. Prime Minister,” Boris Savinkov observed in his grave, formal manner, when Lloyd George had finished, “you will permit me the honor of observing that after the fall of the Roman Empire there ensued the Dark Ages!”
4. Moscow Trial, 1924
The death of Lenin on January 21, 1924, gave rise to fervent new hopes in Reilly’s mind. His agents in Russia reported that the opposition elements within the country were greatly intensifying their efforts to come to power. Within the Bolshevik Party itself, acute differences were manifesting themselves, and there seemed to be the possibility of exploiting a real split. From Reilly’s point of view, it was a highly strategic moment to strike.
Reilly had made up his mind that his old plans for the restoration of Czarism were outdated. Russia had moved away from Czarism. Reilly believed that a dictatorship would have to be set up based on the richer peasants (kulaks) and various army and political forces hostile to the Soviet Government. He was convinced that Boris Savinkov was the ideal man to introduce into Russia the sort of regime which Mussolini headed in Italy. The British spy traveled from one European capital to another. trying to persuade the Intelligence Services and General Staffs to support Savinkov’s cause.
One of the most important personalities to be drawn into the anti-Soviet campaign at this time was Sir Henri Wilhelm August Deterding, Dutch-born Knight of the British Empire and head of the great British international oil trust, Royal Dutch Shell. Deterding was destined to become the world’s foremost financial backer and big-business spokesman, of the anti-Bolshevik cause.
Through Reilly’s efforts, the British oil king became interested in the Torgprom, the organization of the Czarist émigré millionaires. >From Lianozov and Mantashev in Paris, and other Torgprom members in Europe, Deterding shrewdly bought up the paper rights to some of the most important oil fields in Soviet Russia. Early in 1924, having failed to gain control of Soviet oil by diplomatic pressure, the British oil king declared himself to be the “owner” of Russian oil and denounced the Soviet regime as unlawful and outside the pale of civilization. With all the immense resources of his wealth, influence and innumerable secret agents, Sir Henri Deterding declared war on Soviet Russia with the frank intention of gaining possession of the rich oil wells of the Soviet Caucasus.
Deterding’s intervention placed a new emphasis on Sidney Reilly’s campaign. The British spy promptly drew up a concrete plan of attack on Soviet Russia and submitted it to interested members of the European General Staffs. The plan, a variant of the Hoffmann Plan, involved both political and military action.
Politically, Reilly’s plan envisaged a counterrevolution in Russia started by the secret opposition elements in conjunction with Savinkov’s terrorists. As soon as the counterrevolution was successfully under way, the military phase would begin. London and Paris would formally denounce the Soviet Government and recognize Boris Savinkov as the dictator of Russia. The White Armies stationed in Yugoslavia and Rumania would cross the Soviet border. Poland would march on Kiev. Finland would blockade Leningrad. Simultaneously, there would be an armed revolt in the Caucasus led by followers of the Georgian Menshevik, Noi Jordania. (3) The Caucasus would be severed from the rest of Russia, established as an “independent” Trans-Caucasian Federation under Anglo-French auspices, and the oil wells and pipelines returned to their former owners and foreign partners.
Reilly’s plan won the approval and endorsement of the anti-Bolshevik leaders of the French, Polish, Finnish and Rumanian General Staffs. The British Foreign Office was definitely interested in the scheme to sever the Caucasus from Russia. The Italian Fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, summoned Boris Savinkov to Rome for a special conference. Mussolini wanted to meet the “Russian dictator.” He offered to provide Savinkov’s agents with Italian passports to facilitate their traveling in and out of Russia while preparing for the attack. In addition, Il Duce agreed to instruct his Fascist legations and his secret police, the OVRA, to render Savinkov every possible assistance. . . .
In Reilly’s words, “A great counterrevolutionary plot was nearing completion.”
On August 10, 1924, after a long final discussion with Reilly, Boris Savinkov, equipped with an Italian passport, left for Russia. He was accompanied by a few trusted aides and lieutenants of his Green Guards. Once he had crossed the Soviet border, he was to make the last-minute preparations for the general uprising. Every precaution had been taken to insure that Savinkov’s identity would not be disclosed, or his safety endangered. The moment he reached Soviet territory, he was to be met by representatives of the White underground movement who had obtained positions as Soviet officials in the border towns. Savinkov was to send a message by secret courier to Reilly as soon as he arrived.
Days passed, and no word came from Savinkov. In Paris, Reilly waited with growing impatience and anxiety, unable to make a move until the courier arrived. A week elapsed. Two weeks. . . .
On August 28, the planned uprising in the Caucasus broke out. At dawn, an armed detachment of Noi Jordania’s men attacked the still sleeping town of Tschiatury in Georgia, murdered the local Soviet officials and took possession of the town. Acts of terror, killings and bombings occurred throughout the Caucasus. Attempts were made to seize the oil fields. . . .
The next day Reilly found out what had happened to Boris Savinkov. On August 29, 1924, the Soviet newspaper, Izvestia, announced that “the former terrorist and counter-revolutionary Boris Savinkov” had been arrested by the Soviet authorities “after he had attempted to make a secret entry across the Soviet border.”
Savinkov and his aides had crossed the border from Poland. They had been met on Soviet soil by a group of men whom they believed to be co-conspirators and conducted to a house in Minsk. No sooner had they arrived than an armed Soviet officer had appeared and announced that the house was surrounded. Savinkov and his companions had fallen into a trap.
The uprising in the Caucasus encountered an equally unlucky fate. The mountaineers, on whom the counterrevolutionaries had counted as allies, rose to the defense of the Soviet regime. Together with the oil workers, they held the railroads, pipelines and oil fields until the regular Soviet troops arrived. Fighting went on sporadically for a few weeks; but it was clear from the start that the Soviet authorities had the situation in hand. The New York Times reported on September 13, 1924, that the Caucasian uprising was “being financed and directed from Paris” by “powerful financiers” and “former proprietors of the Baku oil wells.” A few days later the remnants of Jordania’s counterrevolutionary army were rounded up and captured by the Soviet troops.
The arrest of Savinkov and the collapse of the Caucasian uprising were a bitter enough disappointment for Sidney Reilly and his friends; but the public trial of Savinkov, which took place shortly afterwards in Moscow, proved to be the most severe blow of all. To the horror and amazement of the many prominent personalities who had been implicated in his plotting, Boris Savinkov proceeded to relate the details of the whole conspiracy. He calmly informed the Soviet court that he had known all along he was walking into a trap when he crossed the Soviet border. “You have done a good job in getting me into your net,” Savinkov had told the Soviet officer who arrested him. “As a matter of fact, I suspected a trap. But I decided to come to Russia anyway. I’ll tell you why . . . I have decided to quit my struggle against you!”
Savinkov said that his eyes had finally been opened to the futility and evil of the anti-Soviet movement. He pictured himself before the court as an honest but misguided Russian patriot who had been gradually disillusioned in the character and aims of his associates.
“With horror,” he declared, “I became more and more convinced that they thought not of the fatherland, not of the people, but only of their own class interests!”
Back in 1918, Savinkov told the court, the French Ambassador Noulens had financed his secret terrorist organization in Russia. Noulens had ordered Savinkov to begin the revolt at Yaroslav early in July 1918, and had promised effective support in the form of the landing of French troops. The revolt had taken place as arranged, but the support had not been forthcoming.
“From where did you derive your money at this time and what was the amount.”‘ asked the president of the court.
“I remember at the time I was in the greatest desperation,” Savinkov said, “as I did not know from whence we could obtain money, when without any solicitation we were approached by certain Czechs, who handed me a sum of over 200,000 Kerensky roubles. This money saved our organization at the time. . . . they declared as follows: they desired this money should be employed for terrorist fighting purposes. They knew – I did not conceal the fact – that I recognized terror as a means of struggle, they knew and gave us money emphasizing that it should be used chiefly for terrorist purposes.”
In later years, Savinkov continued, it became clear to him as a Russian patriot that the anti-Soviet elements abroad were not interested in supporting his movement for its own sake but only for the sake of obtaining Russian oil wells and other mineral riches. “They spoke to me very much and very persistently,” said Savinkov of his British advisers, “as to it being desirable to set up an independent South-Eastern Federation consisting of Northern and Trans-Caucasia. Thev said this Federation would only be the beginning, as Azerbaidjan and Georgia would be joined to it later. Here one smelt the odor of petroleum.”
Savinkov described his dealings with Winston Churchill.
“Churchill once showed me the map of South Russia, in which the positions of Denikin’s and your army were indicated with little flags. I still remember how shocked I was when I went to turn and he, pointing to the Denikin flags, said suddenly: `This here is my army!’ I did not reply but stood as if rooted to the spot. I was going to leave the room, but then I thought if I made a scandal here and shut the door on myself, our soldiers in Russia would be left without boots.”
“For what reason did the English and French supply you with these boots, shells, machine-guns, and so forth?” asked the president of the court.
“Officially, they had very noble aims,” replied Savinkov. “We were faithful allies, you were traitors, et cetera. In the background there was the following: as a minimum, well, petroleum is a very desirable thing. As a maximum: let the Russians squabble among themselves, the fewer there are left living the better. Russia will be all the weaker.”
Savinkov’s sensational testimony lasted two days. He told of his whole career as a conspirator. He named the well-known statesmen and financiers in England, France and other European countries who had given him assistance. He said he had unwittingly become their tool. “I lived, as it were, in a glass cage. I saw nothing else but my own conspiracy. . . . I did not know the people. I loved them. I was prepared to lay down my life for them. But their interests – their actual desires.- could I have any knowledge of them?”
In 1923, he had begun to have an inkling of “the great “world importance” of the Bolshevik Revolution. He began to yearn to return to Russia “to see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears.”
“I thought perhaps what I read in the foreign press is all lies,” said Savinkov. “I thought it cannot be that people whom nobody can overcome have done nothing for the Russian people.”
The Soviet court sentenced Boris Savinkov to death as a traitor to his country, but because of the completeness and candor of his testimony, the sentence was commuted to ten years’ imprisonment.(4)
As soon as the news of Savinkov’s arrest, and the even greater bombshell of his recantation, reached Paris, Sidney Reilly had hurried back to London to confer with his superiors. On September 8, 1924, a lengthy and extraordinary statement by Reilly appeared in the Morning Post, the organ of British Tory antiBolshevism. Reilly declared that Savinkov’s public trial in Moscow had actually never taken place. He stated categorically that Savinkov had really been shot while crossing the Soviet frontier, and that the trial was a colossal fraud: –
Savinkov was killed while attempting to cross the Russian frontier, and a mock trial, with one of their own agents as chief actor, was staged by the Cheka in Moscow behind closed doors.(5)
Reilly vigorously, defended Savinkov’s staunchness as an anti-Soviet conspirator: –
I claim the privilege of having been one of his most intimate friends and devoted followers, and on me devolves the sacred duty of vindicating his honor. . . . I was one of the very few who knew of his intention to penetrate into Soviet Russia. . . . I have spent every day with Savinkov up to the day of his departure for the Soviet frontier. I have been in his fullest confidence, and his plans have been elaborated conjointly with me.
Reilly’s statement concluded with an appeal to the editor of the Morning Post: –
Sir, I appeal to you, whose organ has always been the professed champion of anti-Bolshevism and anti-Communism, to help me vindicate the name and honour of Boris Savinkov!
At the same time, Reilly dispatched a private, carefully worded letter to Winston Churchill: –
Dear Mr. Churchill,
The disaster which has overtaken Boris Savinkov has undoubtedly produced the most painful impression upon you. Neither I nor any of his intimate friends and co-workers have so far been able to obtain any reliable news about his fate. Our conviction is that he had fallen a victim to the vilest and most daring intrigue the Cheka has ever attempted. Our opinion is expressed in the letter which I am today sending to the Morning Post. Knowing your invariably kind interest I take the liberty of enclosing a copy for your information.
I am, dear Mr. Churchill,
Yours very faithfully,
The unquestionable authenticity of the trial, however, was soon established, and Reilly was compelled to send another letter to the Morning Post. It read: –
The detailed and in many instances stenographic Press reports of Savinkov’s trial, supported by the testimony of reliable and impartial eye-witnesses, have established Savinkov’s treachery beyond all possibility of doubt. He has not only betrayed his friends, his organization, and his cause, but he has deliberately and completely gone over to his former enemies. He has connived with his captors to deal the heaviest possible blow at the anti-Bolshevik movement, and to provide them with an outstanding political triumph both for internal and external use. By his act Savinkov has erased forever his name from the scroll of honour of the anti-Communist movement.
His former friends and followers grieve over his terrible and inglorious downfall, but those amongst them who under no circumstances will practise with the enemies of mankind are undismayed. The moral ‘suicide’ of their former leader is for them an added incentive to close their ranks and to “carry on.”
Shortly afterwards, Reilly received a discreet note from Winston Churchill: –
15th September, 1924
Dear Mr. Reilly:
I am very interested in your letter. The event has turned out as I myself expected at the very first. I do not think you should judge Savinkov too harshly. He was placed in a terrible position; and only those who have sustained successfully such an ordeal have a full right to pronounce censure. At any rate I shall wait to hear the end of the story before changing my view about Savinkov.
Yours very truly,
W. S. Churchill
The publication of Savinkov’s confession and testimony was deeply embarrassing to those in England who had supported his cause. In the midst of the scandal, Reiliy was hastily packed off to the United States. Churchill temporarily retired to his country residence in Kent. The British Foreign Office maintained a discreet silence.
A sensational epilogue was yet to come.
Towards the end of October’ 1924, a few days before the British General Elections, banner headlines in Lord Rothermere’s Daily Mail abruptly announced that Scotland Yard had uncovered a sinister Soviet plot against Britain. As documentary proof of the plot, the Daily Mail published the notorious “Zinoviev Letter” purporting to be instructions sent by Grigori Zinoviev, the Russian Comintern leader, to the British Communists on how to combat the Tories in the coming election.
This was the Tory reply to Savinkov’s confession; and it had its effect The Tories won the elections on a violently anti-. Bolshevik platform.
Several years later, Sir Wyndham Childs of Scotland Yard stated that there had never really been any letter by Zinoviev. The document was a forgery, and various foreign agents had been involved in its preparation. It had originally emanated from the Berlin office of Colonel Walther Nicolai, former head of the Imperial German Military Intelligence, who was now working closely with the Nazi Party. Under Nicolai’s supervision, a Baltic White Guard named Baron Uexkuell, who was later to head a Nazi press service, had established in the German capital a special bureau for forging anti-Soviet documents and arranging for these forgeries to receive the widest possible distribution and the most effective publicity.
The actual introduction of the forged Zinoviev Letter to the British Foreign Office and subsequently to the Daily Mail was said to have been accomplished by George Bell, a mysterious international agent. Bell was on the payroll of the Anglo-Dutch oil magnate, Sir Henri Deterding.
(1) The real leader of the Battle Organization was Icvno Aseff, one of the most extraordinary agents provocateurs in history. A spy in the employ of the Czarist secret police, Aseff –while periodically betraying revolutionaries and terrorists – actually drew up the plans for the assassination of the Grand Duke Sergei, Plelive, and other Czarist officials. His sole interest was money; he helped arrange these killings because he knew that such accomplishments would enable him to demand a larger expense account from the Social Revolutionary Party. Naturally, he kept the Czarist secret police unaware of the part he was playing in these assassinations.
Another Social Revolutionary leader who worked closely with Savinlcov and Aseff was Victor Chernov. Like Savinkov, Chernov later became very active in anti-Soviet work. he came to the United States in 1940, and, at the time of writing, is still in this country, where he specializes in spreading anti-Soviet propaganda. See page 348 for further detail on Chernov’s current activities.
(2) In the preface to his book, Ashenden or The British Agent, Somerset Maugham describes his chief assignment in Russia as follows: “In 1917 I went to Russia. I was sent to prevent the Bolshevik revolution and to keep Russia in the war.” Maugham adds: “The reader will know that my efforts did not meet with success.”
(3) In 1918, Noi Jordania had headed a German puppet regime in the Caucasus. In 1919, the British drove out the Germans, and Jordania became head of a British-controlled Transcaucasian Federation. In 1924, his headquarters were in Paris. The French Government had placed at his disposal a subsidy of 4,000,000 francs.
(4) Savinkov was treated with remarkable consideration by the Soviet authorities while he was in prison. He was allowed special privileges, given all the books he desired, and granted facilities for writing. But he pined for liberty. On May 7, 1925, he wrote a long appeal to Felix Dzerzhinsky, the head of the Cheka. “Either shoot me or give me a chance to work,” said Savinkov. “I was against you; now I am for you. I cannot endure the half and half existence of being neither for nor against you, merely sitting in prison and becoming one of its it inhabitants.” He pleaded for pardon and offered to do anything the Government would require of him. His plea was rejected. Soon after, Savinkov committed suicide by throwing himself from a four-story window in the prison.
(5) This was the first of many extravagant “explanations” given by enemies of the Soviet Union during the years following the Revolution in an attempt to discredit the admissions made by foreign conspirators and Russian traitors in Soviet courts of law. These “explanations” reached their peak during the so-called Moscow Trials (1936-1938). See Book III.
CHAPTER X – To the Finnish Frontier
1. Anti-Bolshevism on Broadway
A Welcoming delegation of White Russians was at the dock to greet the Nieuw Amsterdam, the ship which brought Captain Sidney Reilly and his wife to America in the fall of 1924. There were flowers, champagne, and ardent speeches hailing the “hero of the anti-Bolshevik crusade.”
Reilly was soon at home in the United States. An American financial loan to Soviet Russia was being widely discussed. A number of prominent American businessmen were for it; and the Soviet Government, eager to win America’s friendship, and desperately in need of capital and machinery to reorganize its wrecked economy, was willing to make concessions to get it.
“The prospects were bright of the Soviet being able to float its loan,” Mrs. Reilly later recorded. “Sidney was determined that it should not. A great part of his work in America was to be aimed at frustrating that loan.”
Reilly immediately flung himself into the struggle against the proposed loan. He opened a private office on lower Broadway which rapidly became the headquarters of the anti-Soviet and White Russian conspirators in the United States. Vast quantities of anti-Soviet propaganda were soon emanating from Reilly’s office and being mailed throughout the United States to influential editors, columnists, educators, politicians and businessmen. Reilly undertook a cross-country lecture tour to inform the public of the “menace of Bolshevism and its threat to civilization and world trade.” He held a number of “confidential talks” with small, select groups of Wall Street men and wealthy industrialists in a number of American cities.
“Both by public lectures and by articles in the press,” wrote Mrs. Reilly, “Sidney fought against the Bolshevik loan. And it is needless to state how by revelation after revelation, by discovery after discovery he won a complete victory, and the Soviet loan never materialized.”(1)
Sabotaging the loan to Russia was not Reilly’s chief anti-Soviet activity in the United States. His main undertaking was to create on American soil a branch of the International Anti-Bolshevik League, which would lend powerful support to the diverse antiSoviet conspiracies which he was promoting in Europe and Russia. Branches of Reilly’s League were already operating in Berlin, London, Paris and Rome, as well as throughout the cordon sanitaire Baltic and Balkan States. In the Far East a branch of the League, financed by Japan, had been set up in Harbin, Manchuria, under the leadership of the notorious Cossack terrorist, Atarnan Semyonov. In the United States no organized apparatus of such a nature existed. There was, however, excellent material from which to create one. . . .
Reilly’s White Russian friends had soon introduced him to their most influential and wealthy American contacts, who might be willing to contribute large sums to help finance his anti-Soviet movement.
“As regards money, the market for this kind of undertaking is here and only here,” Reilly wrote that year in a confidential letter to one of his agents in Europe, “but to obtain money one must come here with a very definite and very plausible scheme, and with very substantial proof that the minority interest is able within a reasonable time to undertake and to carry out a reorganization of the business.”
The “minority interest” to which Reilly referred in his code language was the anti-Soviet movement in Russia. The “reorganization of the business” meant the overthrow of the Soviet Government. Reilly added: –
With such premises, it would be possible to approach here in the first instance the largest automobile manufacturer, who could be interested in the patents provided proof (not merely talk) was given him that the patents will work. Once his interest is gained the question of money can be considered solved.
According to Mrs. Reilly’s memoirs, her husband was speaking of Henry Ford.
2. Agent B1
The leader of the anti-Soviet White émigré movement in the United States was a former Czarist officer, Lieutenant Boris Brasol, an ex-agent of the Ochrana who had once served as the Prosecuting Attorney for the St. Petersburg Supreme Court. He had come to the United States in 1916 as the Russian representative to the Inter-Allied Conference in New York City, and he had afterwards remained in America as a special Czarist agent.
A small, pallid, nervous, effeminate man, with a slanting forehead, prominent nose, and dark brooding eyes, Brasol was famed as a violent and prolific anti-Semitic propagandist. In 1913, he had played a leading role in the notorious Beilis case, in which the Czarist secret police had attempted to prove that Jews practised ritual murder and had killed a young Christian boy in Kiev for his blood.(2)
Following the Revolution, Brasol had formed the first White Russian conspiratorial organization in the United States. It was called the Union of Czarist Army and Navy officers and was composed largely of former members of the Black Hundreds who had emigrated to America. In 1918, Brasol’s group was in close touch with the State Department and supplied it with much of the spurious data and misinformation on which the State Department based its opinion of the authenticity of the fraudulent “Sisson Documents.” (3) Claiming to be an expert on Russian affairs, Brasol managed to secure a position with the United States Secret Service. As U. S. agent “B1,” one of Brasol’s first acts was to have Natalie De Bogory, the daughter of a former Czarist general, make an English translation of The Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion, the infamous anti-Semitic forgery which had been used in Imperial Russia by the Czarist secret police to provoke widespread pogroms against the Jews, and which the Czarist émigré, Alfred Rosenberg, was currently circulating in Munich. Brasol introduced the translated Protocols into the U. S. Secret Service files as an authentic document which would “explain the Russian Revolution.”
To rally support for the White Russians and convince Americans that the Bolshevik Revolution was part of an “international Jewish conspiracy,” Brasol began circulating the Protocols of Zion throughout the United States. He supplemented the Czarist forgeries with anti-Semitic writings of his own. Early in 1921, a book by Brasol, entitled The World at the Crossroads, was published in Boston. The book asserted that the Russian Revolution had been instigated, financed and led by Jews. The overthrow of the Czar and subsequent international developments, wrote Brasol, were part of a “sinister movement in which the Jews of the world and Mr. Wilson have become partners.”
By July 1, 1921, Brasol was able to boast in a letter written to another White émigré in the United States, Major General Count V. Cherep-Spirodovich: –
Within the last year I have written three books which have done more harm to the Jews than ten pogroms would have done them.
Cherep-Spirodovich was an outstanding anti-Semitic propagandist in his own right. Moreover, he was receiving financial support from a famous American industrialist. The name of the industrialist was Henry Ford.
Boris Brasol also was in close touch with Ford Motor Company agents, and copies of the Protocols were submitted to the auto magnate. . . (4)
3. Black Hundreds at Detroit
A strange and sinister alliance had taken place in the United States between the feudal-minded Czarist émigrés and the famous American industrialist who had developed the most modern methods of production in the world. . . .
The end of the war found Henry Ford a bitter and disillusioned man. The quixotic project of the Peace Ship, which Ford had sent to Europe during the war, had turned out to be an absurd fiasco; and the automobile manufacturer had been widely ridiculed as a result. He was, moreover, deeply resentful of the fact that he had experienced considerable difficulty in securing a loan from Wall Street for the contemplated expansion of his business. As uneducated as he was technically talented, Ford lent a ready ear to the White Russians when they came to him and told him that the Jews were really to blame for his problems. In proof of their contention, they produced The Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion. After carefully examining the Protocols, Ford reached the conclusion that they offered the explanation for all his troubles. He decided to give the anti-Semitic forgeries nation-wide circulation by reprinting them in his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent.
One result was that anti-Semitic Russian aristocrats, White Guard terrorists, Black Hundred pogromists and former agents of the Czarist Secret Police, who had emigrated to the United States after the Revolution, put in an appearance at the Ford Motor Plant in Detroit. They convinced Henry Ford that the United States Government itself was menaced by a revolutionary “Jewish plot” and that liberal American groups and individuals were really, “Jewish fronts.” Under their expert supervision and nourished and given respectability by Ford’s position and wealth, a huge, complex and secret organization was formed to spy upon liberal Americans, to promote reactionary and anti-Soviet protects, to collect anti-Semitic gossip and to spread Jew-baiting propaganda in the United States.
The headquarters of this organization were at the Ford Motor Company. Its members had special code numbers. Ford’s private secretary, F. G. Liebold, was 121X. W. J. Cameron, the editor of the Dearborn Independent, was 122X. Natalie De Bogory, who as Boris Brasol’s assistant had translated the Protocols into English, was 29H.
Ford’s organization penetrated every phase of American life. Its agents were active on leading newspapers, in famous universities, in well-known corporations, and even in agencies of the United States Government. Dr. Harris Houghton, a former member of the United States Military Intelligence, headed the so-called Ford Detective Service, a special division of the conspiratorial apparatus. Dr. Houghton’s code number was 103A. The chief function of the Detective Service was to secure confidential data on prominent American liberals for anti-Soviet and anti-Semitic propaganda purposes. Among those investigated and blacklisted by the Detective Service were Woodrow Wilson, Colonel Raymond Robins, Reverend John Haynes Holmes, Helen Keller, Justices Hughes and Brandeis. According to the secret reports of the Detective Service these individuals and scores more like them were being used in the “Jewish plot” to subvert the American Government.
The findings of the Detective Service were publicized in Ford’s Dearborn independent, which at the same time was serializing the Protocols of Zion. Here is a typical comment regarding Woodrow Wilson: –
Mr. Wilson, while President, was as very close to the Jews. His administration, as everyone knows, was predominantly Jewish. As a Presbyterian elder, Mr. Wilson had occasional lapses into the Christian mode of thought during his public utterances, and was always checked up tight by his Jewish censors.
A story on William Howard Taft in the Dearborn Independent concluded with this paragraph: –
That is the story of William Howard Taft’s efforts to withstand the Jews, and how they broke him. It is probably worth knowing in view of the fact that he has become one of those “Gentile fronts” which the Jews use for their own defense.
Special agents of Ford’s organization were dispatched overseas and traveled thousands of miles to collect new slanders and forgeries against the Jews. One of these agents, a White Russian named Rodionoff, sailed for Japan to obtain special antiSemitic propaganda material from the White Russian colony there. Before departing from the United States, Rodionoff wired Charles W. Smith, a leading member of the Ford organization: –
My conditions are following: During six months I will furnish you exclusively with material agreed upon. You to advance monthly fifteen hundred American dollars payable in Yokohama specie bank. You to pay for material already furnished.
Describing the situation which had developed at the Ford Motor Company, Norman Hapgood, a famous American newspaperman, later Minister to Denmark, wrote: –
In the atmosphere in which Ford’s detectives worked, there was talk of actual pogroms to come to this country. Indeed, within Ford’s circle, there grew up the exact symptoms that existed in Russia in the days of the Black Hundreds. . . . Politically, it meant that history was repeating itself. As Brasol was the chief in this country of the expatriate Russians trying to put the Romanovs back on the throne, it meant that Ford’s persecution had, with the logic of events, joined with the crusade, centuries old, that the despots of Europe had stirred up repeatedly, in order to inflame, for their own purpose, the ignorant religious passions of the dark masses.
Like Henri Deterding in England and Fritz Thyssen in Germany, the American automobile king, Henry Ford, had identified himself with world anti-Bolshevism and with the rapidly developing phenomenon of fascism. According to the February 8, 1923, edition of the New York Times, Vice-President Auer of the Bavarian Diet publicly stated: –
The Bavarian Diet has long had information that the Hitler movement was partly financed by an American anti-Semitic chief, who is Henry Ford. Mr. Ford’s interest in the Bavarian anti-Jewish movement began a year ago when one of Mr. Ford’s agents came in contact with Dietrich Eichart, the notorious Pan-German. . . . The agent returned to America and immediately Mr. Ford’s money began coming to Munich.
Herr Hitler openly boasts of Mr. Ford’s support and praises Mr. Ford not as a great individualist but as a great anti-Semite.
In the small, unimpressive office on Cornelius Street in Munich which was Adolf Hitler’s headquarters, a single framed photograph hung on the wall. The picture was of Henry Ford.
4.The Last of Sidney Reilly
Soon after his arrival in the United States, Sidney Reilly had begun working in intimate collaboration with agents of Ford’s anti-Semitic and anti-Soviet apparatus. With their assistance he compiled “a complete list of those who were secretly working for the Bolshevik cause in America.” (5)
Through Reilly’s efforts, contact was established between the anti-Semitic and anti-democratic movement in the United States and the branches of the International Anti-Bolshevik League in Europe and Asia. As early as the spring of 1925, the basic framework for an international fascist propaganda and espionage center operating under the mask of “anti-Bolshevism” had thus been created. . . .
Meanwhile, Reilly maintained close touch with his agents in Europe. Mail reached him regularly from Reval, Helsinki, Rome, Berlin and other centers of anti-Soviet intrigue. Much of this mail, addressed to Reilly at his Broadway office, was written in cipher or in invisible ink on the back of innocuous-seeming business letters.
The communications contained detailed reports on every new development in the European anti-Soviet movement. The every debacle had temporarily demoralized wide sections of the movement. The Green Guards had broken up into disconnected small bands of professional terrorists and bandits. Jealousies and mutual suspicions were contributing their share to disorganizing the other anti-Soviet groups. It seemed that the great Counterrevolution would have to be postponed for some time.
“Sidney rightly saw,” records Mrs. Reilly, “that the counterrevolution must start in Russia, and that all his work from the outside would only result in creating a passive foreign hostility to the Soviet. He was approached several times on behalf of organizations in Moscow, as he had been approached by Drebkov in London, but he proceeded warily. . . .”
Early that spring, Reilly received a letter postmarked Reval, Estonia, which greatly excited him. The letter, written in code, came from an old friend, Commander E., who had served with Reilly in the British Intelligence Service during the World War, and who was now attached to the British Consular Service in one of the Baltic countries. The letter, which was dated January 24, 1925, began: –
There may call on you in Paris from me two persons named Krashnoshtanov, a man and wife. They will say they have a communication from California and hand you a note consisting of a verse from Omar Khayam [sic] which you will remember. If you wish to go further into their business you must ask them to remain. If the business is of no interest you will say “”Thank you very much, Good Day.”
In the code used by Commnder E. and Reilly, “Krashnoshtanov” meant an anti-Soviet agent named Shultz and his wife; “California” meant the Soviet Union; and the “verse from Omar Khayam” meant a special message in secret code. Commander E.’s letter continued: –
Now as to their business. They are representatives of a concern which will in all probability have a big influence in the future on the European and American markets. They do not anticipate that their business will fully develop for two years, but circumstances may arise which will give them the desired impetus in the near future. It is a very big business and one which it does not do to talk about. . . .
Commander E. went on to say that “a German group” was very much interested in participating in the “deal,” and that a “French group” and an “English group” were becoming actively involved.
Referring once more to the “concern,” which he indicated was operating in Russia, Commander E. wrote: –
They refuse at present to disclose to anyone the name of the man at the back of this enterprise. I can tell you this much – that some of the chief persons are members of the opposition groups. You can therefore fully understand the necessity for secrecy. . . . I am introducing this scheme to you thinking it might perhaps replace the other big scheme you were working on but which fell through in such a disastrous manner.
Sidney Reilly and his wife left New York on August 6, 1925. They arrived in Paris the following month, and Reilly immediately proceeded to contact the Shultzes about whom Commander E. had written. They outlined the situation inside Russia, where, since Lenin’s death, the opposition movement associated with Leon Trotsky had been organized into an extensive underground apparatus which aimed at overthrowing the Stalin regime.
Reilly was soon convinced of the major importance of the new developments. He was eager to make personal contact as soon as possible with the leaders of the anti-Stalin faction in Russia. Messages were exchanged through secret agents. It was finally arranged that Reilly should meet an important representative of the movement on the Soviet frontier. Reilly left for Helsinki to see the Chief of Staff of the Finnish Army, one of his close personal friends and a member of his Anti-Bolshevik League, who was to make the necessary arrangements to get Reilly across the Soviet border.
Shortly afterwards, Reilly wrote to his wife, who had remained in Paris, “There is really something entirely new, powerful and worthwhile going on in Russia.”
A week later, on September 25, 1925, Reillv dispatched a hastynote to his wife from Viborg, Finland, saying: –
It is absolutely necessary that I should go for three days to Petrograd and Moscow. I am leaving tonight and will be back here on Tuesday morning. I want you to know that I would not have undertaken this trip unless it was absolutely essential, and if I was not convinced that there is practically no risk attached to it. I am writing this letter only for the most improbable case of a mishap befalling me. Should this happen, then you must not take any steps; they will help little but may finally lead to giving the alarm to the Bolshies and to disclosing my identity. If any chance I should be arrested in Russia, it could only be on some minor insignificant charge and my new friends are powerful enough to obtain my liberation.
That was the last letter to be written by Captain Sidney Reilly of the British Secret Intelligence Service. . . .
After several weeks elapsed, and Mrs. Rcilly still had no word from her husband, she got in touch with Marie Shultz, Reilly’s confederate in Paris. Mrs. Reilly later recorded the interview in her memoirs.
“When your husband arrived here,” Mrs. Shultz told Mrs. Reilly, “I explained to him the exact state of affairs as far as our organization was concerned. On our side we have some of the principal Bolshevik officials in Moscow, who are anxious to bring the present regime to an end, if only their safety can be guaranteed.”
Captain Reilly, continued Mrs. Shultz, had been inclined to be skeptical at first. He said that foreign aid for a new venture against Soviet Russia could be enlisted only if the conspiratorial group inside the country had some real strength.
“I assured him,” said Mrs. Shultz, “that our organization in Russia was powerful, influential and well-knit.”
Mrs. Shultz went on to relate how a meeting between Reilly and representatives of the Russian conspiratorial apparatus had been arranged to take place at Viborg, Finland. “Captain Reilly was much impressed by them,” said Mrs. Shultz, “particularly by their leader, a very highly placed Bolshevik official, who beneath the cover of his of officer is one of the most ardent enemies of the present regime.”
The following day, accompanied by Finnish patrol guards who had been especially assigned to the task, Reilly and the Russian conspirators set out for the frontier. “For my part,” Mrs. Shultz related, “I went as far as the frontier to wish them Godspeed.” They remained at a Finnish blockhouse beside a river until nightfall. “For a long time we waited while the Finns listened anxiously for the Red patrol, but everything was quiet. At last one of the Finns lowered himself cautiously into the water and half swam, half waded across. Your husband followed. . . :’
That was the last Mrs. Shultz saw of Captain Reilly.
When Mrs. Shultz had concluded her story, she handed Mrs. Reilly a clipping from the Russian newspaper, Izvestia. It read: –
The night of September 28-29, four contrabandists tried to pass the Finnish frontier with the result that two were killed, one, a Finnish soldier, taken prisoner and the fourth so badly wounded that he died. . . .
The facts, as they later came out were these; Reilly had successfully crossed the Soviet border and interviewed certain members of the Russian anti-Stalin opposition. He was on his way back and was nearing the Finnish border when he and his body guards were suddenly accosted by a unit of the Soviet Border Guards. Reilly and the others tried to escape. The Border Guards opened fire. A bullet hit Reilly in the forehead, killing him instantly.
Not until several days later did the Soviet authorities identify the “contrabandist” they had killed. When they had done so, they formally announced the death of Captain Sidney George Reilly of the British Secret Intelligence Service.
The London Times carried a two-line obituary: “Sidney George Reilly killed September 28 by G.P.U. troops at the village of Allekul, Russia.”
(1) Sidney Reilly could not claim complete credit for the victory over Soviet Russia. There were others in the United States who were no less eager and fought no less energetically to prevent the loan. Among them was Herbert Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce, whose animosity against the Bolsheviks was unabating. “The question of trade with Russia,” Hoover informed Maxim Litvinov on March 31, 1921, “is far more a political one than an economic one so long as Russia is under the control of the Bolsheviki.”
(2) “I was the second greatest preliminary investigator in Russia,” Brasol told a journalist who interviewed him after he had arrived in the United States. “I studied detections of crime all over Europe, under orders from the government. In Switzerland, Germany, France and England I had made myself expert in criminal detection.”
The American newspaperman asked Brasol if he believed that Jews commit ritual murder.
“Why shouldn’t I?” answered Brasol.
Later the American journalist described his own feelings during the interview. “I shuddered,” he said, “as I sat face to face with this Russian Black Hundred disciple and heard him, in this twentieth century, tell coldly of the medieval cruelty of the Czar’s henchmen.”
(3) The so-called Sisson Documents, allegedly proving that Lenin and other Soviet leaders were in the pay of the German High Command, were published and distributed in the United States by the State Department after the Bolshevik Revolution. The documents, originally offered for sale by White Russians, had been rejected by the British Secret Service as crude forgeries. Edgar Sisson, a State Department official, purchased the documents and brought them to Washington, D. C. Subsequently the fraudulency of the documents was conclusively established.
(4) For details on Brasol’s subsequent and current activities in the United States, see page 344.
(5) This list, which included the names of every prominent American who had said anything favorable about Soviet Russia, was to serve as a useful model for American fascists and Nazi agents in future years. The anti-Semitic propagandist, Elizabeth Dilling, later drew heavily upon this and similar lists in compiling her notorious Red Network. George Sylvester Viereck, Colonel Emerson, Oscar Pfäus and other Nazi agents or fifth columnists in the United States made similar use of this data in their propaganda work.
CHAPTER XI – Overture with War Drums
A VIOLENT storm was brewing beneath the seeming calm of the middle nineteen-twenties. Enormous colonial and semi-colonial areas of the earth stirred with new hopes of freedom by the example of the Russian Revolution, were awakening to nationhood and threatening to upset the whole topheavy structure of colonial imperialism. . . .
The storm broke in the spring of 1926. Revolution flared in China where a united front of Kuomintang and Communist forces overthrew the corrupt Peking dictatorship, the puppet regime of Western imperialism, and established a Free China.
The event was heralded by an outburst of horrified and desperate anti-Soviet propaganda throughout Asia and the Western World. The Chinese Revolution, representing the upsurge of hundreds of millions of oppressed peoples against foreign and domestic oppression, was violently attacked as the direct outcome of a “Moscow plot.”
The Emperor of Japan promptly expressed his willingness to serve as a “bulwark against Bolshevism” in Asia. Encouraged by the Western powers, Japan prepared to intervene in China to put down the Revolution. The Japanese Prime Minister, ‘General Tanaka, submitted to the Emperor his famous secret Memorial outlining the ultimate aims of Japanese imperialism: –
In order to conquer the world, we must first conquer China; all the other Asiatic countries of the South Seas will then fear us and capitulate before us. The world will then understand that Eastern Asia is ours. . . . With all the resources of China at our disposal; we shall pass forward to the conquest of India, the Archipelago, Asia Minor, Central Asia and even Europe. But the first step must be the seizure of control over Manchuria and Mongolia. . . . Sooner or later we shall have to fight against Soviet Russia. . . . If we wish in the future to gain control over China, we must first crush the United States. (1)
In March 1927, the Chinese war lord and notorious Japanese puppet, Chang Tso-lin, staged a raid on the Soviet Embassy in Pelting, and announced he had discovered evidence of a Bolshevik plot against China. It was the signal for the launching of the Chinese counterrevolution. Encouraged by Japanese and Anglo-French offers of subsidies, arms and recognition, the Kuomintang forces under Chiang Kai-she’, suddenly broke the united front and attacked their revolutionary allies. A massacre followed. Thousands of Chinese workers, students and peasants suspected of liberal or Communist sympathies were seized in Changhai, Peking and elsewhere and shot or imprisoned in concentration camps and tortured to death. Civil war swept China.
But the Chinese Revolution had unleashed the latent freedom movements throughout Asia. Indonesia, Indo-China, Burma and India were seething. Seriously alarmed, the imperialists looked to Japan to protect them from “Bolshevism.” At the same time, in Europe, the General Staffs again dragged out of their pigeonholes the old plans for the anti-Bolshevik crusade and the general assault on Moscow.
At the international diplomatic conference at Locarno, throughout 1925-1926, the Anglo-French diplomats had been feverishly negotiating with Germany for joint action against Soviet Russia.
The British Tory spokesman, the Right Honorable W. C. A. Orinsby-Gore, in a speech at Manchester on October 23, 1924, had put the issue at Locarno in clear and unmistakable terms: –
The solidarity of Christian civilization is necessary to stein the most sinister force that has arisen not only in our lifetime, but previously in European history.
The struggle at Locarno as I see it is this: Is Germany to regard her future as bound up with the fate of the great Western powers, or is she going to work with Russia for the destruction of Western civilization? The significance of Locarno is tremendous. It means that, so far as the present Government of Germany is concerned, it is detached from Russia and is throwing in its lot with the Western party.
In France, Raymond Poincaré, the French Premier, publicly advocated a combined military offensive of the European powers, including Germany, against Soviet Russia.
In Berlin, the German imperialist and anti-democratic press announced that the hour had come to smash Bolshevism. After a series of conferences with Reichswehr generals and industrialists close to the Nazi Party, General Max Hoffmann hastened to London to submit his famous Plan to the British Foreign Office and to a select group of Tory members of Parliament and military men.
On the morning of January 5, 1926, the London Morning Post published an extraordinary letter signed by Sir Henri Deterding. In this letter, Deterding proclaimed that plans were afoot to start a new war of intervention against Soviet Russia. Deterding declared:
. . . before many months, Russia will come back to civilization, but under a better government than the Czarist one. . . . Bolshevism in Russia will be over before this year is; and, as soon as it is, Russia can draw on all the world’s credit and open her frontiers to all willing to work. Money and credit will then flow into Russia, and, what is better still, labor.
A well-known French journalist of the Right, Jacques Bainville, commented in Paris: “If the President of the Royal Dutch has given a date for the end of the Soviet regime, it is because he has reason for doing so. . . .”
On March 3, 1927, Viscount Grey told the British House of Lords: “The Soviet Government is not in the ordinary sense a national government at all. It is, not a Russian Government in the sense that the French Government is French or the German Government German.”
On May 27, 1927, British police and secret service agents raided the offices of Arcos, the Soviet trading organization in London. They arrested the employees and searched the premises, breaking into files and strongboxes and even drilling holes in the floors, ceilings and walls in search of “secret archives.” No documents of an incriminating nature were found; but the Morning Post, the Daily Mail and other anti-Soviet papers published wild stories of “evidence” of Soviet plots against Britain allegedly uncovered by the Arcos raid.
The British Tory Government broke off diplomatic and trade relations with the Soviet Union.
That same summer, raids were made on Soviet Consulates and other official agencies in Berlin and Paris. In June, the Soviet Ambassador to Poland, V. I. Voikov, was assassinated in Warsaw. Bombs were hurled into a Bolshevik Party meeting in Leningrad. .(2)
Marshal Foch, in an interview with the London Sunday Referee on August 21, 1927, clearly indicated the direction in which all this violence was heading.
“In February 1919, in the early days of Leninism,” stated Foch, “I declared to the Ambassadors’ Conference meeting in Paris that, if the states surrounding Russia were supplied with munitions and the sinews of war, I would undertake to stamp out the Bolshevik menace once and for all. I was over-ruled on the grounds of war-weariness, but the sequel soon showed I was right.”
To Arnold Rechberg, one of the leading promoters of the Nazi movement in Germany, Marshal Foch sent a letter, saying: –
I am not foolish enough to believe that one can leave a handful of criminal tyrants to rule over more than half the continent and over vast Asiatic territories. But nothing can be done so long as France and Germany are not united. I beg you to convey my greetings to General Hoffmann, the great protagonist of the anti-Bolshevist military alliance.
The stage was set for war.
(1) The Tanaka Memorial, later to be known as Japan’s Mein Kampf, was written in 1927 and first came to light in 1929 after it was bought from a Japanese agent by Chang Hsueh-liang, the Young Marshal of Manchuria. The China Council of the Institute of Pacific Relations published the documet in the United States and exposed it to the world.
(2) Simultaneously, Trotsky’s opposition movement inside Soviet Russia, was preparing to overthrow the Soviet Government. An attempted Trotskvite Putsch took place on November 7, 1927. A number of Trotsky’s followers were arrested and Trotsky himself was exiled. See page 205.
CHAPTER XII – Millionaires and Saboteurs
1. A Meeting in Paris
ONE afternoon, in the late fall of 1928, a few immensely wealthy Russian émigrés gathered with great secrecy in a private dining room at a restaurant on the Grand Boulevard in Paris. Every precaution had been taken to prevent outsiders from learning of the affair. The meeting had been called by the leaders of the Torgprom, the international cartel of former Czarist millionaires. The names of the men who were assembled had been legendary in old Russia: G. N. Nobel; N. C. Denisov; Vladimir Riabushinsky and other figures of equal renown.
These émigré millionaires had come together to confer surreptitiously with two distinguished visitors from Soviet Russia. Professor Leonid Ramzin, one of the visitors, was an outstanding Russian scientist, Director of the Moscow Thermo-Technical Institute, and a member of the Soviet Supreme Economic Council. The other visitor, Victor Laritchev, was Chairman of the Fuel Section of the State Planning Commission of the U.S.S.R.
Professor Ramzin and Victor Laritchev were supposedly in Paris on official Soviet business. The real purpose of their visit to the French capital, however, was to report to the Torgprom leaders on the activities of a secret espionage-sabotage organization they headed in the Soviet Union.
The organization headed by Ramzin and Laritchev was called the Industrial Party. Composed mainly of elements of the old Russian technical intelligentsia who had comprised a small privileged class under the Czar, the Industrial Party claimed approximately two thousand secret members. Most of them held important Soviet technical posts. Financed and directed by the Torgprom, these Industrial Party members were carrying on wrecking and spying activities in Soviet industry.
Professor Ramzin was the first to speak at the meeting in the Paris restaurant. He told his audience that everything possible was being done to interfere with the vast and ambitious Five Year Plan, which Stalin had just launched in an intensive effort to industrialize Soviet Russia’s one sixth of the earth. Industrial Party members, said Ramzin, were active in all branches of Soviet industry and were putting into practice carefully systematized and scientific techniques of sabotage.
“One of our methods,” the Professor explained to his listeners, “is the method of minimum standards, that is, the greatest retarding of the economic development of the country and the holding back of the pace of industrylization. Secondly, there is the method of creating a disproportion between the individual branches of national economy and also between individual sections of one and the same branch. And finally-, there is the method of `freezing capital,’ that is, the investment of capital either in absolutely unnecessary construction or in that which might have been postponed, not being essential at the moment.”
Professor Ramzin expressed particular gratification over the results that had been obtained by the “freezing capital” method. “This method has meant cutting down the rate of industrialization,” he said. “Without doubt it has lowered the general level of the economic life of the country, thus creating discontent among large masses of the population.”
On the other hand, Professor Ramzin pointed out, there had been less promising developments. A group of Industrial party members who had been carrying on work in the Shakhty Mines had recently been arrested by the OGPU. Several others who had been operating in the transport and oil industries had also been apprehended. Moreover, since Leon Trotsky had been sent into exile and his Trotskvite Opposition movement had been broken up, a great deal of the former inner political strife and dissension had died down, thus malting the operations of the Industrial Party that much more difficult.
“We need more support from you,” Professor Ramzin said in conclusion. “But more than anything else we need armed intervention if the Bolsheviks are to be overthrown.”
N. C. Denisov, the Chairman of the Torgprom, took the floor. A respectful hush fell over the small group as he began to speak. “As you know,” Denisov said, “we have been conferring with Monsieur Poincare and also with Monsieur Briand. For some time Monsieur Poincare has expressed his complete sympathy with the idea of organizing armed intervention against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and at one of our recent conferences with him, as you may recall, Monsieur Poincare stated that the question had already been turned over to the French General Staff to be worked out. It is now my privilege to convey to you additional information of the utmost importance.”
Denisov paused dramatically, while his audience waited with tense expectancy.
“I bring you the news that the French General Staff has formed a special commission, headed by Colonel Joinville, to organize the attack against the Soviet Union!” (1)
Immediately there was a hubbub of excited comment. Everyone in the smoke-filled room began talking at once. It was several minutes before Denisov could continue with his report on the activities of the Torgprom. . . .
2. Plan of Attack
The date set for the military attack on the Soviet Union was the late summer of 1929 or, at the latest, the summer of 1930. The chief military- forces were to be provided by Poland, Rumania and Finland. The French General Staff would furnish military instructors and possibly the use of the French Air Force. Germany was to supply technicians and volunteer regiments. The British would lend their navy. The plan of attack was an adaptation of the Hoffmann Plan.
The first move was to be made by Rumania after the provocation of some frontier incident in Bessarabia. Then Poland was to come along with the Baltic border states. Wrangel’s White Army, said to number 100,000 men, would move through Rumania to the southern army of intervention. The British fleet would support operations in the Black Sea and in the Gulf of Finland. A force of Krasnov’s Cossacks, who had been quartered in the Balkans since 1921, would be landed on the Black Sea shore in the Novorossisk region; they would move on the Don, fomenting uprisings among the Don Cossacks and striking into the Ukraine. The purpose of this blow would be to cut off communications between the Donets coal fields and Moscow, thus effecting a crisis in the Soviet supply of metal and fuel. Moscow and Leningrad were to be simultaneously attacked, while the southern army was to move through the western districts of the Ukraine, with its flank on the right bank of the Dnieper.
All attacks were to be carried out without declaration of war, with startling suddenness. Under such pressure, it was thought, the Red Army would swiftly collapse and the downfall of the Soviet regime would be a matter of days.
At a conference arranged by the Torgprom leaders, Colonel Joinville, on behalf of the French General Staff, asked Professor Rainzin what possibilities there were of obtaining active military assistance from the opposition elements within the Soviet Union at the time of the attack from outside. Ramzin replied that the opposition elements, although scattered and underground since the expulsion of Leon Trotsky, were still sufficiently numerous to play a role.
Colonel Joinville recommended that the Industrial Party and its allies should establish a special “military branch.” He gave Ramzin the name of several French secret agents in Moscow who could aid in the setting up of this sort of organization. . . .
From Paris, still ostensibly on official Soviet business, Professor Ramzin traveled to London to meet representatives of Sir Henri Deterding’s Royal Dutch Shell and of Metro-Vickers, the giant British munitions trust dominated by the sinister Sir Basil Zarahoff who had once controlled large interests in Czarist Russia. The Russian professor was informed that, while France was playing the leading part in this plan for intervention against Soviet Russia, Britain was ready to do her share. The British interests Would give financial support, continue to exercise diplomatic pressure for the isolation of the Soviets, and lend the use of the British Navy at the time of the attack. . . .
Back in Moscow, Professor Ramzin reported to his associates in the conspiracy on the results of his trip abroad. It was agreed that the Industrial Party would devote itself to accomplishing two tasks: to bring about the most critical situation possible in industry and agriculture so as to arouse mass discontent and weaken the Soviet regime; and to develop an apparatus for giving direct aid to the attacking armies by means of acts of sabotage and terrorism behind the Soviet lines.
Money from the Torgprom, relayed by French agents in Moscow, poured in to finance the sabotage activities in various phases of industry. The Metal Industry was allotted 500,000 rubles; the Fuel, Oil and Peat Industry, 300,000 rubles; the Textile Industry, 200,000; the Electrical Industry, 100,000. Periodically, at the request of French, British or German agents, members of the Industrial Party and their allies prepared special espionage reports on Soviet aviation production, construction of air fields, developments in the munitions and chemical industries, and conditions on the railroads.
As the time of the invasion drew near, expectation ran high among the émigré Czarist millionaires. One of the Torgprom leaders, Vladimir Riabushinsky, published on July 7, 1930, an astonishing article entitled “A Necessary War” in the White Russian Paris newspaper, Vzoroshdenie.
” The coming struggle against the Third International, to seeure the liberation of Russia, will, beyond a doubt, be assigned by history to the group of most just and most serviceable of all wars,” declared Riabushinsky. Earlier attempts at intervention in Russia, he added, had failed or had been abandoned on the grounds that they were too costly to carry out: “Back in 1920, and up to 1925, specialists were prepared to carry out this operation in the space of six months with an army of 1,000,000 men. The expenditure was calculated to run to 100,000,000 (British) pounds.”
But now, said the émigré Czarist millionaire, the investment involved in smashing the Soviet regime would be considerably less because of the internal political and economic difficulties in Soviet Russia: –
Probably 500,000 men and three to four months would be sufficient to finish off this work in the rough. The final crushing of Communist bands would, of course, occupy a little more time, but that is rather in the nature of police work than of military operations.
Riabushinsky then proceeded to enumerate the many “business” benefits that would result from the invasion of Russia. A thriving Russian economy controlled by men like himself, he asserted, would result in “the annual influx into the European economic system of such wealth, in the form of a demand for various types of goods,” that the result might well be “the wiping out of the five-million strong arms’ of unemployed of Austria, Germany and Great Britain.”
The anti-Soviet crusade was, of course, “a grand and sacred undertaking and the moral duty of humanity.” But forgetting all of that, and looking at it from “the plain,. unvarnished, soulless and purely business point of view,” Riabushinsky pointed out: –
. . . we can safely make the assertion that there is not an enterprise in the world which would he more justified from the business standpoint, or more profitable, than that of effecting the emancipation of Russia.
By spending one billion rubles mankind will receive a return of not less than five billions, i.e., five hundred per cent per annum, with the prospect of a further increase in the rate of profit every year by another hundred or two hundred per cent.
Where could you do better business?
3. A Glimpse Behind the Scenes
A glimpse into some of the fantastic anti-democratic and anti-Soviet plots that were being hatched in those years in the underworld of European big business and diplomacy was accidentally revealed in Germany in the late nineteen-twenties. . . .
German police detectives, in the course of a routine investigation in the city of Frankfort, had stumbled by chance on a mass of counterfeit Soviet banknotes (chervonetz) which were lying in a warehouse, packed in huge bundles and awaiting shipment to Soviet Russia.
The trial that ensued, known as the Chervonetz Trial, became an international sensation. Before the trial was over, the names of a number of the most prominent personages in Europe had been brought into the court proceedings. Among these personages were Sir Henri Deterding and his mysterious agent, Georg Bell; the Czarist oil magnate, Nobel; the Bavarian pro-Nazi industrialist, Willi Schmidt; and the celebrated General Max Hoffmann, who died shortly before the trial ended.
The defendants at the trial, charged with counterfeiting the Soviet banknotes, were Bell, Schmidt and two Georgian antiSoviet conspirators formerly associated with Noi Jordania: Karumidze and Sadathierashvili. As the trial progressed, it emerged that the aim of the defendants was to flood the Soviet Caucasus with the forged banknotes so as to create political tension and disorder in the Soviet Union.
“Economic factors,” remarked the judge trying the case, “such a; oil wells and minerals, seem to play a dominant part in the scheme.”
It soon became clear that the counterfeiting plot was only a small phase of a gigantic conspiracy. The pro-Nazi industrialist, Willi Schmidt, testified that he was primarily interested in “suppressing Communism in Germany,” but he believed it would first be necessary to overthrow the Soviet regime in Russia. He admitted he had paid the expenses of General Hoffmann when the latter had gone to London in 1926 to submit to the British Foreign Office a copy of his Plan for a French-German-British alliance against Russia. Schmidt told the court that he had “the greatest confidence in General Hoffmann, both because of his personal character and because of his alleged association with big oil interests in England.”
The Georgian conspirator, Karumidze, identified “the big oil interests” as those of Sir Henri Deterding, who was the chief financial backer of the plot.
Further testimony established that powerful financial and political groups in Germany, France and Britain had worked out an elaborate scheme to sever the Caucasus from the Soviet Union as a preliminary move in precipitating a general war against Russia. Syndicates had been formed for the “economic exploitation of the liberated territories.” Germany was to supply troops, technicians and arms. The Anglo-French groups were to exert financial and diplomatic pressure on Rumania and Poland to ensure their participation in the crusade. . . .
A document “that might endanger the safety of the German state if it were made public” was read to the court in camera. It was said to involve the German High Command.
The trial was becoming dangerous. “Although the [German] Foreign Office and the British Embassy, declare that nothing will be kept from the public,” reported the New York Times on November 23, 1927, “it is an open secret that the police have orders to hush up the whole affair.”
The Chervonetz Trial came to an abrupt and extraordinary conclusion. The German court argued that since the banknotes had never been circulated, having been seized by the police before they were distributed, no forgery in the strict sense of the term had been committed. While “counterfeiting of Soviet currency was definitely proved,” declared the court, the forgers and their associates “were, however, actuated by unselfish political motives and entitled to an acquittal.” The accused conspirators left the courtroom as free men.
References to the. sensational case vanished from the newspapers after one public statement by Sir Henri Deterding: –
It is true that I knew General Hoffmann. I admired him as a soldier and leader of men. And unhappily now he is dead, and cannot defend himself. But I will defend him. . . . General Hoffmann was an implacable enemy of Bolshevism. He worked for years on a scheme to unite the great powers to fight the Russian menace. . . . That he was keen for a fight with Moscow is known to every student of post-war politics. It is a great shame that he is dead, for he would have had a complete answer to his traducers. . . .
The projected attack on the Soviet Union was postponed from 1929 to the summer of 1930. The reason given for the postponement in White Russian circles was “French unpreparedness”; but it was generally known that disagreements as to “spheres of influence in the liberated territories” had broken out between the various groups. The British and the French groups quarreled over control of the Caucasus and the Donets coal fields; both opposed German claims to the Ukraine. Nevertheless, Sir Henri Deterding, the real leader of the movement, remained optimistic that these differences could be resolved and confidently predicted the beginning of the war by the summer of 1930.
On June 15, 1930, replying to a letter he had received from a White Russian, who thanked him for money received, Deterding wrote: –
If you really desire to express your gratitude, I would ask you to do the following: Endeavor in the new Russia, which will rearise within a few months, to be one of the best sons of your fatherland.
The following month Sir Henri Deterding was the main speaker at a meeting celebrating the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Russian École Normale in Paris, a military academy for the sons of White Russian officers and aristocrats. The function was attended by Czarist émigré princes and princesses, bishops, generals, admirals and lesser officers. Side by side with them stood high-ranking members of the French Army, dressed in full parade uniform.
Deterding began his speech by telling those assembled that there was no need to thank him for the assistance he was giving their work, since he was only fulfilling his duty to Western civilization. Addressing himself to a group of young uniformed White Russians in the audience, he said: –
You must rely upon yourselves. You must remember that all your work and activities will take place on your native Russian soil. The hope of the early liberation of Russia – now suffering a national calamity – is growing and becoming stronger every day. The hour of emancipation of your great fatherland is at hand.
The entire audience, the French officers no less enthusiastically than the White Russians, applauded Sir Henri’s next statement: –
The liberation of Russia will take place much sooner than we all think. It may even be the matter of a few months!
In the midst of these war preparations came an unexpected and catastrophic interruption: the World Crisis.
On December 18, 1930, Benito Mussolini summed up the effects of this unprecedented event on Europe: –
The situation in Italy was satisfactory until the fall of 1929, when the American market crash exploded suddenly like a bomb. For us poor European provincials it was a great surprise. We remained astonished, like the world at the announcement of the death of Napoleon. . . . Suddenly the beautiful scene collapsed and we had a series of bad days. Stocks lost thirty, forty and fifty per cent of their value. The crisis grew deeper. . . From that day we also were again pushed into the high seas, and from that day navigation has become extremely difficult for us.
Unemployment, hunger mass demoralization and destitution were the inevitable accompaniments of the economic crash which, beginning in Wall Street, soon – wept like a hurricane across Europe and Asia, involving all the nations which were to have composed the Holy Alliance against Bolshevism.
Great banks and. industrial concerns were crashing almost daily; Small investors were ruined; the workers were turned out in the streets. While the millions starved, wheat rotted in the crammed silos; surplus corn was plowed back into the earth, coffee was used for stoking furnaces; fish were thrown back into the sea. The world could no longer pay for the commodities it had produced in overabundance. An entire system of economic distribution had broken down.
Early in 1931, Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, wrote to M Moret Governor of the Banque de France: “Unless drastic measures are taken to save it, the capitalist system throughout the civilized world will be wrecked within a Year.
A world had tumbled in ruins and amidst the appalling wreckage, whole nations of baffled human beings wandered like lost souls. . . .
In the Far East, Japan saw her opportunity. The first phase of the Tanaka Memorial went into operation.
On the night of September 18, 1931, Japanese military forces invaded Manchuria. The Chinese Kuomintang armies, still fighting a civil war against the Chinese Communists, were taken by surprise and offered little resistance. Japan swept through Mancuria “to save China from Bolshevism.” . . .
The Second World War had begun – not quite as it had been planned.
(1) This same Colonel Joinville had formerly commanded the French army of intervention in Siberia in 1918. At the time of the Torgprom meeting in Paris, the French General Staff included these members: Marshal Foch, who had advocated armed intervention against Russia ever since 1919; Marshal Petain whose anti-Soviet sentiments were equaled only by his fear of and contempt for democracy; General Weygand, who had led the Polish forces against the Red Army in 1920 and had remained ever since a tireless participant in anti-Soviet and anti-democratic plots. Foch died in 1929; his personal adjutant, René L’Hôpital, subsequently became President of the notorious Comite Franco-Allemand founded at the end of 1935 by the Nazi agent, Otto Abetz, to spread Nazi and anti-Soviet Propaganda in France.
CHAPTER XIII – Three Trials
1. The Trial of the Industrial Party
The only country unaffected by the World Crisis was the one-sixth of the earthwhich had been deliberately excluded from world affairs since 1917, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
While the rest of mankind writhed in the grip of the crisis, the Soviet Union was embarking on the most grandiose economic and industrial expansion in all history. Stalin’s first Five-Year Plan was galvanizing Old Russia into unprecedented feats of creative labor. Whole cities were rising out of the barren steppes; new mines, mills and factories were springing up. Millions of peasants were transforming themselves overnight into trained workers, engineers, scientists, doctors, architects and educators. In a few years the progress of a thousand was achieved, and moujiks whose ancestors from time immemorial had bent their ragged backs over their primitive scythes, mattocks and wooden plows now harvested the fructified soil with tractors and combines, and combated the crop pests with chemicals sprayed from airplanes. And amidst this gigantic national and revolutionary effort, a Soviet generation which had never known the degradation of Czarist tyranny was rising to manhood. . . .
At the same time, the Soviet Government struck hard at its enemies within. A series of three trials exposed and smashed the Torgprom intrigue which represented the last major effort of Anglo-French imperialism and Czarist counterrevolution in Russia.
On October 28, 1930, Professor Ramzin, along with many other leaders and members of the Industrial Party, were rounded up and arrested. Raids by OGPU agents occurred simultaneously throughout the Soviet Union, and underground members of the Social Revolutionary, Menshevik and White Guard movements were taken into custody along with a number of Polish, French and Rumanian secret service agents.
The trial of the Industrial Party leaders took place before the Soviet Supreme Court in Moscow and lasted from November 25 to December 7, 1930. The eight defendants, including Professor Ramzin and Victor Laritchev, were charged with aiding foreign conspiracies against the Soviet Union; with carrying on espionage and sabotage activities; and with plotting to overthrow the Soviet Government. Confronted with the evidence which Soviet Intelligence agents had gathered against them, one by one the accused broke down and admitted their guilt. Their testimony not only gave full details of their espionage-sabotage operations, but also implicated Sir Henri Deterding, Colonel Joinville, Leslie Urquhart, Raymond Poincare and other eminent European soldiers, statesmen and businessmen who had backed the Industrial Party and the Torgprom.
Five of the defendants, including Professor Ramzin and Victor Laritclicv, were sentenced to the supreme penalty – to be shot as traitors to their country. The other three defendants, technicians who had operated under orders, were sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment.(1)
2. The Trial of the Mensheviks
Shortly after the debacle of the Industrial Party, the Soviet authorities struck again. On March 1, 1931, fourteen leaders of an extensive sabotage ring, made up of former Mensheviks, were placed on trial before the Soviet Supreme Court in Moscow.(2)
The defendants at the Menshevik Trial included a number of highly placed officials in vital Soviet administrative and technical agencies. In the early days of the Soviet regime these Mensheviks had pretended to renounce their hostility toward the Bolsheviks. Co-operating with the Industrial Party and other secret anti-Soviet elements, they had maneuvered their way into key government posts. One of the Menshevik conspirators, Groman, had secured a high position in the Soviet industrial planning bureau (Gosplan), and had tried to sabotage phases of the first Five-Year Plan by drawing up incorrect estimates and lowering production goals in vital industries.
Between 1928 and 1930 the “All-Union Bureau,” which was the Central Committee of the secret Menshevik organization, received a total of approximately 500,000 rubles from foreign sources. The largest contributor was the Torgproln, but other anti-Soviet groups also made sizable donations to the conspirators and maintained close contact with them. The Mensheviks were strongly supported by the Second International – the labor organization controlled by the anti-Soviet Social Democrats and Socialists.
According to the defendants, their chief liaison with the foreign anti-Soviet circles had been the former Russian Menshevik leader Raphael Abromovitch, who had fled to Germany after the Revolution. One of the ringleaders of the conspiracy, Vassili Sher, testified: –
In the year 1928, Abromovitch came from abroad. We members of the “All-Union Bureau” were previously informed of his journey . . .
Abromovitch pointed out the necessity of concentrating the main weight of the work on the groups of responsible Soviet employees. He also pointed out that these groups must be united and begin a more decisive tempo of disorganizing activity.
Another of the Menshevik conspirators, Lazar Salkind, told the court: –
. . . Abromovitch drew the conclusion that it was necessary to begin with active sabotage methods in the various branches of the Soviet economic system, to disorganize the Soviet economic policy, in the eyes of the working class and the peasant masses. The second basis of the struggle against the Soviet power was military intervention, declared Abromovitch.(3)
On March 9, 1931, the Soviet Supreme Court handed down its decision. The Menshevik defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to ten years.
3. The Trial of the Vickers Engineers
Around 9:30 P.M on the night of March 11, 1933, the Soviet Government struck its final blow at the remnants of the Torgprom conspiracy. OGPU agents in Moscow arrested six British engineers and ten Russians, all employees of the Moscow Office of the British electrical-engineering concern of Metropolitan-Vickers. The British subjects and their Russian associates were charged with having carried on espionage and sabotage in the Soviet Union on behalf of the British Intelligence Service.
The chief Vickers representative in Moscow had been a man named Captain C. S. Richards. He had hurriedly left for England just before the arrests. Richards had been a British agent in Russia since 1917 when, as captain of an Intelligence Servicedetachment, he took part in the anti-Soviet intrigues which preceded the Allied occupation of Archangel. Under Richards’s direction, the Moscow Office of Metro-Vickers had subsequently become the center of British secret service operations in Russia.
Among the British “technicians” arrested by the Soviet authorities in Moscow was one of Captain Richards’s former associates in the Archangel expedition, Allan Monkhouse, who served as Richards’s second-in-command.
Monkhouse, while pleading not guilty to the current charges, admitted that he had formerly been associated with Richards. He testified: –
Mr. Richards I met in 1917 in Moscow and later on in Archangel, where he, as I confirm, occupied the position of captain of the Intelligence Service. It is known to me that Mr. Richards was in Moscow in April or May 1918. I do not know for what he came to Moscow but I know from what he told me that he secretly crossed the frontier to Finland at that time. In 1923 he was appointed a director of the Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Export Company. In the same year he went to Moscow for negotiations about supplying of equipment.
Monkhouse had been sent back to Russia in 1924 to work under Richards in the Vickers Moscow Office.
Leslie Charles Thornton, another of the arrested Vickers employees, who had been sent to Moscow as Vickers Chief Engineer, was the son of a wealthy Czarist textile manufacturer and a Russian subject by births He had become a British subject after the Revolution and an agent of the British Intelligence Service. Two days after his arrest, Thornton wrote and signed a deposition which stated: –
All our spying operations on U.S.S.R. territory are directed by the British Intelligence Service, through their agent, C. S. Richards, who occupies the position of Managing Director of the Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Export Company, Ltd.
Spying operations on U.S.S.R. territory were directed by myself and Monkhouse, representatives of the above-mentioned British firm, who are contractors, by official agreements, to the Soviet Government, for the supply of turbines and electrical equipment and the furnishing of technical aid agreement. On the instructions of C. S. Richards given to me this end, British personnel were gradually drawn into the spying organization after their arrival on U.S.S.R. territory and instructed as to the information required.
The Vickers “engineer” William MacDonald also admitted the charges and stated: –
The leader of the reconnaissance work in the U.S.S.R. disguised under the shield of Metropolitan-Vickers was Mr. Thornton, who worked in Moscow as chief erecting engineer. The head of the representation was Mr. Monkhouse who also took part in this illegal work of Mr. Thornton. The assistant of Mr. Thornton for travelling purposes and his associate in the espionage work was engineer Cushny, officer of the British army, now an engineer of the firm Metropolitan-Vickers. This is the main group of reconnaissance workers which did the espionage work in the U.S.S.R.
The arrest of these Vickers “engineers” was the occasion for an immediate storm of anti-Soviet protest in Britain. Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, without waiting to hear the charges and evidence in the case, categorically, declared that the British subjects who had been arrested were absolutely innocent. Tory members of Parliament once again demanded severance of all commercial and diplomatic relations with Moscow. The British Ambassador to Soviet Russia, Sir Esmond Ovey, a friend of Sir Henri Deterding, stormed into the Soviet Foreign Office in Moscow and told Maxim Litvinov that the prisoners must be immediately released without trial in order to avoid “grave consequences to our mutual relations.”
When the trial finally opened on April 12, in the Blue Hall of the old Nobles’ Club in Moscow, the London Times of that day spoke of “a packed court, subservient to their persecutors.” The Observer on April 16 described the trial as “an ordeal conducted in the name of justice, but hearing no resemblance to any judicial proceedings that civilization knows.” The Daily Express on April 14 described the Soviet Prosecutor Vyshinsky: “The carroty-haired, red-faced Russian spat insults . . . pounded the table.” The Evening Standard that same week described the Soviet Defense Counsel Braude as “the sort of Jew one might meet any evening in Shaftesbury Avenue.”
The British public was given to understand that no genuine trial of the accused was taking place, and that the British engineers were being subjected to the most frightful tortures to exact from them admissions of their guilt. The Daily Express on March 20 had exclaimed: “Our countrymen are undergoing the horrors of a Russian prison!” The Times on April 17 declared: “Great anxiety is felt as to what is happening to Mr. MacDonald in prison between the sittings of the court. Those long acquainted with Chekist methods think his life is in danger.” Lord Rothermere’s Daily Mail, which within a few months was to become the semiofficial organ of Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Fascist Party, told its readers of a strange “Tibetan drug” which was being used by the OGPU to sap the will power of their “victims.”
All the British subjects, however, subsequently revealed that they had been treated with great politeness and consideration by the Soviet authorities. None of them had been subjected to any form of coercion, third-degree methods or force. Allan Monkhouse, who, in the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, blandly continued to deny that he had any knowledge of what his colleagues were doing, declared of his OGPU examiners in a statement in the London Dispatch on March 15: –
They were extraordinarily nice to me and exceedingly reasonable in their questioning. My examiners seemed first-rate men who knew their job. The OGPU prison is the last word in efficiency, entirely clean, orderly and well organized. This is the first time that I have ever been arrested, but I have visited English prisons and can attest that the OGPU quarters are much superior. . . . OGPU officials . . . showed every concern for my comfort.
Nevertheless, the British Government, under Tory pressure, imposed an embargo on all imports from Soviet Russia. Trade between the two countries was stopped. . . .
On April 15, after a private interview with British representatives in Moscow, Leslie Thornton abruptly retracted his signed admission of guilt. In court he admitted that the facts he had written down were substantially, correct; but the word “spy,” he claimed, was inaccurate. Trying to explain why he had used the word in the first place, Thornton said that he had been “excited” at the time. Under public questioning in court by the Soviet Prosecutor Vyshinsky, he admitted that he had made the admissions of his “own free will,” “without any pressure or coercion,” and in his own words: –
Vyshinsky. Nothing was distorted?
Thornton. No, you did not change anything.
Vyshinsky. But perhaps [Assistant Prosecutor] Roginsky did?
Vyshinsky. Perhaps the OGPU distorted it? THORNTON. No, I signed it with my own hand. VYSHINSKY. And with your head? When you were writing did you consider and think?
Thornton. (Does not reply.)
Vyshinsky. And whose head is thinking for you now? THORNTON. At present I feel different.
William MacDonald, after a private interview with British representatives in Moscow, also suddenly retracted his original statements. Then, confronted with the evidence accumulated by the Soviet authorities, MacDonald again changed his mind and returned to his original plea of guilty. His last words to the court were: “I have admitted my guilt and have nothing more to add.”
On April 18, the Soviet Supreme Court handed down its verdict. With one exception all the Russian accomplices were found guilty and were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to ten years. The British subject, Albert Gregory, was acquitted on the grounds that the evidence against him was insufficient. The other five British engineers were found guilty. Monkhouse, Nordwall and Cushny were ordered to be deported from the Soviet Union. Leslie Thornton and William MacDonald were sentenced respectively to two and three years’ imprisonment.
The sentences were light and the case was hastily concluded. The Soviet Government had accomplished its aim of smashing the remnants of the Torgprom conspiracy and the center of British Intelligence operations in Russia. A mutual compromise was effected between the Soviet and British Governments. Trade was resumed and the British defendants, including Thornton and MacDonald, were shipped back to England. . . .
A far more dangerous phenomenon than British Tory hostility to Soviet Russia had arisen on the international political horizon.
Adolf Hitler had seized supreme power in Germany.
1. Two days after the completion of the trial, Professor Rainzin and the four other defendants who had been sentenced to death petitioned the Soviet Supreme Court for a reprieve. The court granted the petition and commuted the sentences of death to sentences of ten years’ imprisonment on the grounds that Ramzin and his colleagues had been the tools of the real conspirators who were outside the Soviet Union. In the years following the trial, Professor Ramzin, who was granted every opportunity by the Soviet authorities for new scientific work, became completely won over to the Soviet way of life and began making valuable contributions to the industrial program of the U.S.S.R. On July 7, 1943, Professor Ramzin was awarded the Order of Lenin and the Joseph Stalin Prize of $30,000 for the invention of a simplified turbo-generator, said to be better than any other in the world. Under a decree issued by the Kremlin, the turbo-generator bears the inventor’s name.
2. The Mensheviks were a faction within the Russian Social Democratic Party, which was the original Russian Marxist organization. At the Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Party, held in London in 1903, the organization split into two rival groups. Subsequently, these two groups formed themselves into separate parties. Lenin’s group were called Bolsheviks (from bolshinstvo, meaning majority); Lenin’s opponents were called Mensheviks (from menshintsvo, meaning minority). The Bolsheviks, at Lenin’s suggestion, later took the name of Communists, and the official title of the Bolshevik Party became: Communist Party of Russia (Bolsheviks). The Mensheviks corresponded to the European Social Democrats and Socialists, with whom they formed personal and organizational affiliations.
3. The Second international denounced the trial of the Mensheviks as “political persecution” by Stalin’s “bureaucratic dictatorship.” Abromovitch issued a statement denying that he had traveled to the Soviet Union and participated in secret conferences there. He admitted, however that “there has been an illegally active organization of our Party there, whose representatives or individual members are in communication by letter and from the point of view of organization with our foreign delegation in Berlin.”
Abromovitch later came to the United States. For his current activities in America, see page 348.
CHAPTER XIV – Death of an Era
THE propaganda myth of the “menace of Bolshevism” had put Nazism in power. Under the pretext of saving Germany from Communism, Adolf Hitler had risen from an obscure Austrian corporal and Reichswehr spy to become Chancellor of the German Reich. On the night of February 27, 1933, Hitler rose even higher by means of a supreme act of provocation: the burning of the German Reichstag. The fire, set by the Nazis themselves, was proclaimed by Hitler to be the signal for a Communist uprising against the Government of Germany. With this excuse, the Nazis declared a state of emergency, imprisoned or murdered leading anti-fascists, and smashed the trade-unions. Out of the charred ruins of the Reichstag, Hitler emerged as Der Fuehrer of the “Third Reich.
The Third Reich replaced the White Counterrevolution of Czarism as the world’s bulwark of reaction and anti-democracy. Nazism was the apotheosis of the Counterrevolution, equipped with the tremendous industrial and military resources of resurgent German Imperialism. Its political creed was a resurrection of the dark hatreds and fanatical prejudices of Czarism. Its Storm Troops were the old Black Hundreds reborn and raised to the status of a regular military apparatus. Mass pogroms and extermination of whole peoples were part of the official program of the Government of the Third Reich. The Protocols of Zion provided the Nazi ideology. The Nazi leaders themselves were the spiritual offspring of the Baron Wrangels and Ungerns of the White Terror in Russia.
The fifteen years of the false peace and the secret war against world democracy and progress under the slogan of “anti-Bolshevism” had borne their inevitable fruit. The flames that burned the Reichstag were soon to spread and multiply until they menaced the entire globe. . . .
“We start anew where we terminated six centuries ago,” wrote Hitler in Mein Kampf. “We reverse the eternal Germanic emigration to the South and West of Europe and look Eastwards. In this way we bring to an end the colonial and trade policies of the pre-War times and pass over to the territorial policy of the future. If we speak of new soil we can but think first of Russia and her subject border states.”
The lure of “anti-Bolshevism” drew as by a powerful magnet the forces of world reaction and imperialism to the support of Adolf Hitler.
The same statesmen and militarists who had formerly supported every White intrigue and conspiracy against Soviet Russia now emerged as the chief apologists and promoters of Nazism. In France, the anti-Bolshevik circle which had surrounded Marshal Foch and his former aides, Petain and Weygand, ignored the menace of Nazism to their own country in their eagerness to ally themselves with this new and most powerful of all anti-Bolshevik movements. Mannerheim of Finland, Horthy of Hungary, Sirovy of Czechoslovakia, and all the other European puppets of the secret anti-Soviet war were converted overnight into the vanguard of Nazi aggression to the east.
In May 1933, only a few months after Hitler took power in Germany, Alfred Rosenberg went to England to confer with Sir Henri Deterding. The Nazi “philosopher” was a guest at the oil magnate’s country estate at Buckhurst Park near Windsor Castle. Already there was a powerful and growing pro-Nazi group among the British Tory advocates of the anti-Bolshevik crusade.
On November 28, 1933, Lord Rothermere’s Daily Mail sounded the theme that was soon to dominate British foreign policy: –
The sturdy young Nazis of Germany are Europe’s guardians against the Communist danger. . . . Germany must have elbow room. . . . The diversion of Germany’s reserves of energies and organizing ability into Bolshevik Russia would help to restore the Russian people to a civilized existence, and perhaps turn the tide of world trade once more towards prosperity.
Under Nazi leadership, all the scattered forces of world antiBolshevism, anti-democracy and White Counterrevolution were to be mobilized into a single international force for the smashing of European democracy, invasion of Soviet Russia and, eventually, for attempted domination of the world.
But there were farsighted statesmen in the Western democracies who refused to accept Hitler’s anti-Bolshevism as an extenuation of all Nazi crimes and conspiracies. In Britain and the United States, there were two outstanding leaders who saw from the beginning that with the triumph of Nazism in Germany an era of world history had come to an end. The fifteen-year-old secret war against Soviet Russia had reared a Frankenstein in the heart of Europe, a militarized monster, that threatened the peace and security of all free nations.
As Hitler’s Storm Troops marched through the streets of Germany, swinging their clubs and singing, “Today Germany is Ours, Tomorrow the whole World!” an eloquent English voice spoke out on a note of warning and prophetic alarm. Unexpectedly, it was the voice of Winston Churchill, the former leader of Tory anri-Bolshevism.
In December 1933, Churchill dramatically broke with his Tory colleagues and denounced Nazism as a menace to the British Empire. In direct reply to Lord Rothermere’s statement that “the sturdy young Nazis of Germanv are Europe’s guardians against the Communist danger,” Churchill said: –
All these bands of sturdy Teutonic youths marching the streets and roads of Germany . . . are looking for weapons, and, when they have the weapons, believe me they will then ask for the return of lost territories and lost colonies, and when that demand is made it cannot fail to shake and possibly shatter to their foundations every one of the countries.
Churchill called for an agreement with France and even the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany. He was denounced as a traitor and warmonger by the men who had formerly hailed him as a hero of the anti-Bolshevik cause. . . .
Across the Atlantic another man saw that an era of world history had ended. The recently elected President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, abruptly reversed the anti-Soviet policy which his predecessor, President Herbert Hoover, had pursued. On November 16, 1933, full diplomatic relations were established between the United States and the Soviet Union. On that same day President Roosevelt sent a letter to Maxim Litvinov which stated: –
I trust that the relations now established between our peoples may forever remain normal and friendly, and that our nations henceforth may co-operate for their mutual benefit and for the preservation of the peace of the world.
Within a year Nazi Germany had withdrawn from the League of Nations. Its place in the collective council of the nations was taken by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The new era had begun. It was to be an era of the most fantastic and enormous treasons in history; an era of secret diplomacy carried on by terror, murder, conspiracy, coup d’etat, fraud and deceit unparalleled in the past.
It was to culminate in the Second World War.