THE NATURE OF THE BOLSHEVIK THREAT
From the very start, the allies took an adverse attitude towards the Bolshevik revolution. A superficial look at the events would find this natural enough since the Bolsheviks signed a peace treaty with Germany. It apparently, meant the collapse of the Eastern front against Germany. There was however a more basic reason for the Allies’ dislike of the Bolsheviks.
A concerted effort was made to discredit the regime. Official statements were issued containing accusations of a grave nature which would justify the stand of non-recognition towards that government, as well as military intervention for the dual purpose of answering the necessities of the war against Germany, and helping the Russian people to overthrow a regime it was supposed to hate.
What the people were asked to believe was one thing, and what the allied leaders knew to be true was something different. The accusations made against the Bolshevik leaders were at odds with the facts.
The Disintegration Of The Russian Army
A ‘Committee to Collect Information on Russia’ produced a report on February 25th, 1921, and presented it to Parliament by Command of His Majesty (Cmd. 1240). It was named the Lord Emmott Report. We quote from it:
...By the autumn of 1916 a large number of officers and the majority of the intelligentsia — patriotic, active and resolute — had been led to the conviction that a state of affairs had arisen which could not be allowed to go on. It has been said that, eighteen month before the revolution broke out discipline in the army had begun to be affected as a result of the disorganisation both at the front and in the rear and the enormous casualties sustained, and that revolution became a common subject of discussion among the officers in the messes of the Guard regiments.(p.13)
..It has been seen that discipline was undermined before the revolution, that the rank and file were weary of war, that the officers of the Russian army did not command as a whole the respect and confidence of their men, and that a gulf was thus created between them (ibid., p15).
At the time, the Bolshevik leaders were not yet popular and many of them were either in Siberia or out of the country. How could they be blamed for the inability of the Russian army to proceed with the war against Germany?
The report goes on to show that by the time of the March revolution, which was hailed by the Allies as representing the democratic will of the people, the Russian army, as a fighting machine, was already destroyed.
In short, the Western leaders were informed by their own qualified committee that the disintegration of the Russian army was not caused by the Bolsheviks. Though the report was written in 1921, the facts were well known to the Allied leaders even before the Bolshevik revolution. Bruce Lockhart wrote
I deprecated as sheer folly our militarist propaganda because it took no account of the war-weariness which had raised the Bolsheviks to the supreme power...
I think that in their hearts the Cabinet realised that Russia was out of the war for good, but with an obstinate lack of logic they refused to accept the implications of their secret beliefs. Hate of the revolution and fear of its consequences in England were the dominant reactions of the Conservatives..
According to Lockhart, it is the war weariness that raised the Bolsheviks to power. Lockhart is convinced that the Cabinet was aware of this. He knew the evidence, he knew it had been communicated to the Cabinet, and he knew it was convincing.
George F, Kennan, the American expert in Russian affairs and, at the end of WW II, the main theoretician of the ‘containment’ policy writes:
The sad fact is that by the spring of 1917 nothing the Allies might have done could have made Russia once more a serious factor in the war. The entire Russian economic and political system had by this time been overstrained by the military effort.
“By the spring of 1917”, the Bolsheviks were not yet in power.
Nobody denied that the Bolsheviks had a majority in the elected Soviet Assembly. The accusation that the Bolsheviks were not representing the will of the Soviet people was based on the fact that they dissolved the Constituent Assembly which had been convoked before the Bolshevik revolution. It is therefore of interest to note that, on January 18, 1918, one day before its dissolution, the Constituent Assembly met in Petrograd (renamed later Leningrad) and issued a declaration from which we quote:
Expressing, in the name of Russia, its regret that the negotiations with Germany, which were started without a preliminary agreement with the Allied democracies, have assumed the character of negotiations for a separate peace, the Constituent Assembly in the name of the peoples of the Russian Democratic Federative Republic takes upon itself the further carrying on of negotiations with the countries warring with us, in order to work towards a general democratic peace, at the same time protecting the interest of Russia.
As Coates remarks, “had the Constituent Assembly been able to take over the Government of the country, it too would have continued negotiations with the Central Powers.” Therefore, whether we consider the Soviet Assembly or the Constituent Assembly as representative of the will of the Russian people the conclusion remains that, with respect to the peace negotiations with Germany, the Bolsheviks did represent the will of the Russian people.
Caring For Democracy In Russia
The British Establishment, as we shall see in chapter 4, did not relish democracy in Britain. It did not mind having as an ally Tsarist Russia, notorious for its autocratic and repressive regime.
In view of Britain’s rule over a large colonial empire, it seems quite hypocritical for her to pretend to care for democracy elsewhere. Britain, of course, always pretended to rule the empire in the interest of the colonial peoples which, it was claimed, had not yet reached a stage of development justifying self-rule and independence.
Rarely did an English leader express himself openly on Great Britain’s motivation for ruling its empire. The English Cabinet member (Home Office) Sir William Joynson-Hicks, who later became Viscount Brentford, was an exception. He said in a speech:
We did not conquer India for the benefit of the Indians. I know it is said at missionary meetings that we conquered it to raise the level of the Indians. That is cant. We conquered India as the outlet for the goods of Great Britain. We conquered India by the sword and by the sword we should hold it. (“Shame.”) Call shame if you like. I am stating the facts.. but I am not such an hypocrite as to say we hold India for the Indians. We hold it as the finest outlet for British goods in general, and for Lancashire cotton goods in particular.
Such frankness from leaders of the Establishment was not very common. In the case of the military intervention in Russia, Britain found it convenient to state that she was motivated by principles of democracy and by her respect for the will of the Russian people.
In his book ‘The Catastrophe’ on page 315, A.F. Kerensky writes:
On the streets of Moscow pamphlets were being distributed entitled Kornilov, the National Hero (original italics). These pamphlets were printed at the expense of the British Military Mission and had been brought to Moscow from the British Embassy in Petrograd in the railway carriage of General Knox, British military attaché.. Aladin.. this once famous politician.. became an extremely suspicious adventurer. This discredited man brought to General Kornilov a letter from Lord Milner British War Minister, expressing his approval of a military dictatorship in Russia and giving his blessing to the enterprise. This letter naturally served to encourage the conspirators greatly. Aladin himself, envoy of the British War Minister, was given first place next to Zavoiko in the entourage of General Kornilov.
There is no reason to doubt the veracity of Kerensky’s accusations. He was strongly opposed to Bolshevism and had no interest in inventing a story against Britain. Moreover his accusations are corroborated by Commander H.G. Grenfell, British naval attaché to Russia who stated in a letter in ‘The Manchester Guardian’ on November 20, 1919:
The Corps Diplomatique, incapable of realising that the peasants and workmen, 95 per cent of the nation, had in fact more political weight than the remainder, the Allied Embassies, influenced, moreover, by their military attaches and military missions, then threw all their energies into backing Kornilov against the Provisional Government..
This, at a time at which the Provisional Government was recognised by the Allies and hailed as a democratic government representing the will of the Russian people.
President Wilson, too, did not care too much for democracy. On May 29, 1918:
He remarked that he would go as far as intervening against the will of the Russian people — knowing that it was eventually for their own good — providing that he thought the scheme had any practical chance of success.. We must watch the situation carefully, and sympathetically, and be ready to move whenever the right time arrives.
Dr. S.E. Morrison, member of the US delegation at the Paris Peace Conference, resigned from his position and gave his reasons in a Press interview:
Russia can never be restored and reconstructed on a democratic basis by supporting a military dictator in Siberia. Moreover, I cannot be a party to the policy towards the Baltic States accepted by the Powers of supporting them as long as they were useful to fight the Bolsheviks, but as soon as the Bolshevik were crushed to hand them back to Russia with our good wishes
’The Times’ correspondent cabled on November 24 1919:
Our chief danger lies in the ignorance of the masses and the failure of the Omsk Government to attract them.
The Omsk Government is that of Koltchak, recognised and enjoying the full military and economic support of the Allies in general, and of the British Government in particular. The failure of the Koltchak Government to attract the masses was no impediment to maintaining excellent relations with Britain. At the same time, the British Government was refusing to deal with the Bolshevik Government under the pretext that it was not representative of the Russian people.
General William S. Graves, the commander of the US troops in Siberia, stated:
The Koltchak adherents.. could not have existed away from the railroads and.. at no time while I was in Siberia was there enough popular support behind Koltchak in Eastern Siberia for him, or the people supporting him, to have lasted one month if all Allied support had been removed
J.E. Hodgson from the Daily express wrote:
I have spoken with many Russians who sighed for the return of the old regime and who laughed at me for speaking of the illiterate lower classes in Russia as being their equals before the Lord. These officers placed their unfortunate compatriots upon a level with the negroes of our Empire
The same author mentions in an earlier page (78) that:
It was repeatedly explained to me that the private soldier was composed of such common clay that he could be controlled only by brutalization. By clinging desperately to such ideas the class from which the officers were drawn proved its own inability to grasp and digest historical facts.
It is precisely this class that was supported by the Allies in their struggle to become again the masters of Russia. This, obviously, could not have been the will of the Russian people.
The Allies were not supporting the groups and leaders that had the Russian people’s confidence. Were the Bolshevik enjoying more of that confidence? Were they more representative of the people’s will?
On January 15, 1918, Sir G. Buchanan, the British Ambassador who had returned from Russia, stated in an interview with Reuters:
..As to the political situation, the main fact to realise is that the Bolshevists are without doubt masters of the situation in Northern Russia, at any rate for the present.
Bolshevist doctrines are without doubt spreading throughout the whole of Russia, and they appeal very specially to those who have nothing to lose.
According to the Correspondent of the Associated Press in Tokyo “Viscount Yasuya Uchida, former Ambassador at Washington, who on his return here from his post as Ambassador to Russia, expressed doubt as to the wisdom of entering Siberia at this time. His conviction was that Bolshevism today represented the thought of a great majority of the Russian people”
General Sir Hubert Gough, head of the British military expedition to the Baltic wrote in an article which appeared in the December issue of Oxford Review:
Without being actually Bolshevik in their political creed the Russian are determined to prevent the return to power of the old official classes, and if forced to a choice, which is what is actually happening at the moment, they prefer the Bolshevik Government.
Obviously, the British government was insensitive to the Russian people’s preferences. It was supporting the alternative to Bolshevism: the return to power of the old official classes.
Commenting on the mutiny in the French army, Churchill wrote:
The foreign occupation offended the inhabitants: the Bolsheviks profited by their discontents. Their propaganda, incongruously patriotic and Communist, spread far and wide through the Ukraine.
The French troops were themselves affected by the Communist propaganda, and practically the whole of the fleet mutinied.
Churchill recognises that the Allied military intervention was perceived by the Russians as a foreign occupation and was resented as such. For the Russians, the Allies were invaders and not liberators. As to the Bolsheviks, their propaganda was successful. In other words, they represented the will of the people.
Did The Bolsheviks Have A German Connection?
According to Coates, Mr Raymond Robins, head of the American Red Cross Mission in Russia, gave evidence on March 8, 1919. He told the Senate Propaganda Investigating Committee that:
He did not believe that Lenin and Trotsky had subjected themselves to German influence.. he believed the people of Russia wanted Bolshevism and that the larger majority supported Lenin and Trotsky (TIMES, March 9, 1919)
Commandant Grenfell, British naval attaché to Russia 1912-1917, declared:
The legend of German co-operation with the Bolsheviks is, of course, but a myth invented by the Cadets to cover their own discomfiture, well knowing, too, how readily and easily it would be swallowed in the West (Manchester Guardian, November 11, 1919)
Mr. Bruce Lockhart, British Consul in Moscow in 1917 and Chief of the British Mission to the Soviet Government in 1918 stated:
I could not help realising instinctively that, behind its peace programme and its fanatical economic programme, there was an idealistic background to Bolshevism which lifted it far above the designation of a mob movement led by German agents. For months I had lived cheek by jowl with men who worked eighteen hours a day and who were obviously inspired by the same spirit of self-sacrifice and abnegation of worldly pleasure which animated the Puritans and the early Jesuits.
The Western Leaders were informed by their own best sources that the Bolshevik leaders were not German agents.
Some of the information sent by Bruce Lockhart to his Government are mentioned in a letter he sent to Colonel Robins on May 5, 1918:
..Do let me, in support of my views of things here, put before you the following definite instances in which Trotsky has shown his willingness to work with the Allies:
1) He has invited Allied officers to co-operate in the reorganization of the New Army.
2) He invited us to send a commission of British Naval officers to save the Black Sea Fleet.
3) On every occasion when we have asked him for papers and assistance for our naval officers and our evacuation officers at Petrograd he has always given us exactly what we wanted.
4) He has given every facility so far for Allied Co-operation at Murmansk.
5) He has agreed to send the Czech Corps to Murmansk and Archangel.
6) Finally, he has to-day come to a full agreement with us regarding the Allied stores at Archangel whereby we shall be allowed to retain these stores which we require for ourselves.
You will agree that this does not look like the action of a pro-German agent..
Recreating A Russian Eastern Front Against Germany?
We quote from a letter dated March 5, 1918 sent by Bruce Lockhart to his Government:
..If ever the Allies have had a chance in Russia since the revolution, the Germans have given it to them by the exorbitant peace term they have imposed on Russia..
..If His Majesty’s Government does not wish to see Germany paramount in Russia, then I would most earnestly implore you not to neglect this opportunity.
The Congress meets on March 12th. Empower me to inform Lenin that the question of Japanese intervention has been shelved, that we will persuade the Chinese to remove the embargo on foodstuffs, that we are prepared to support the Bolsheviks in so far as they will oppose Germany and that we invite his suggestion as to the best way in which this help can be given. In return for this, there is every chance that war will be declared.. and that it will arouse a certain amount of enthusiasm..
General W. Graves mentions that a copy of a note from the Soviet Government, dated March 5, 1918, exists in the Congressional Record, June 29, 1919, p. 2336 from which the General quotes:
In case (a) the All-Russian congress of the Soviets will refuse to ratify the peace treaty with Germany, or (b) if the German Government, breaking the peace treaty, will renew the offensive in order to continue its robber’s raid..
1. Can the Soviet Government rely on the support of the United States of North America, Great Britain, and France in its struggle against Germany?
2. What kind of support could be furnished in the nearest future, and on what conditions — military equipment, transportation supplies, living necessities?
3. What kind of support would be furnished particularly and especially by the United States?..
On March 9th, 1918, Mr. Francis, the U.S.A. Ambassador cabled his Government:
I cannot too strongly urge the folly of an invasion by the Japanese now. It is possible that the Congress at Moscow may ratify the peace, but if I receive assurance from you that the Japanese peril is baseless I am of the opinion that the Congress will reject this humiliating peace. The Soviet Government is the only power which is able to offer resistance to the German advance and consequently should be assisted if it is sincerely antagonistic to Germany. In any case the peace ratification only gives Russia a breathing spell as the terms thereof are fatal to Bolshevikism as well as to the integrity of Russia.
Here was an opportunity to rebuild an Eastern front against Germany. This was a recognised impossibility just before the Bolshevik revolution. By proving their sincerity in the quest for peace, the Bolsheviks were in a position enabling them to mobilise the Russian people against the harsh conditions offered by Germany. The news from Moscow indicated that the Bolsheviks had succeeded in recreating a patriotic fervour in the Russian people and that the approval or rejection of peace with Germany would depend largely on the attitude of the Allies toward the Soviet Government.
However the Allies did not encourage Russia to become once again member of the group of countries fighting Germany. Britain gave its consent to the Japanese invasion of Siberia. As to the United States, while expressing to the Soviet Congress its best wishes to the Russian people, it said that it was in no position to help.
Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary stated that he believed in the sincerity of the Bolshevik leaders in their intention to rebuild an army that would fight Germany. But he considered this to be impossible to achieve. Therefore Britain would not help Russia in this respect. At the same time, he repudiated any suggestion that the Japanese invasion of Siberia was motivated by selfish and dishonourable aims. As it turned out, the army formed by the Bolsheviks was able to overcome all attempts by the ‘White’ forces to destroy the Bolshevik regime in spite of the foreign military interventions aimed at helping the ‘Whites’ in their endeavour. The same efficient ‘Red army’ could have, if the Allies would have been ready to help, resumed the fight against Germany.
Before speaking at the Congress, Lenin had a conversation with Robins asking him what he had heard from his government. Robins said that he heard nothing. Lenin told him then that he also heard nothing from Bruce Lockhart and that, under these conditions, he will speak for the ratification of the peace treaty with Germany
It is therefore clear that, on the one hand, the Bolsheviks were not responsible for the disintegration of the Russian front and that, on the other hand, the Allies did not jump at the opportunity of recreating it when the only power able to do so, the Bolsheviks, suggested it.
Recreating an Eastern Front against Germany was a convenient reason to advance for a military intervention in Russia, convenient but not real. The following quote should settle the matter, at least concerning US policy:
On February 19, 1918, William Phillips, Assistant Secretary of State, reported that the French had intimated to the Bolsheviks that they were ready to give assistance if the Bolsheviks would resist the German menace and defend Russia. The French government asked if the United States would give similar instructions to its ambassador in Petrograd. Below the note appears the following in pencil: “It is out of the question. Submitted to President who says the same thing.”
In fact, not only was the front not recreated but precious resources needed in the Western Front were diverted from the struggle against Germany to the struggle against the Bolsheviks.
Terror In Russia
From the Lord Emmott report already quoted:
The coup d’état of October 1917 as a result of which the Soviet Government was established, by the Bolshevik or Communist Party, was not immediately followed by the inauguration of a terrorist policy. Several Ministers of the former Provisional Government were, however, arrested and imprisoned under onerous conditions in the fortress of Saint Peter and Paul, but were subsequently released after a comparatively short term of confinement. On the other hand, several persons of military and political reputation were allowed to go their way without interference. The case of General Krasnov, who had commanded a detachment of Cossack cavalry in support of the Provisional Government against the Bolsheviks, is an example of this. He was set at liberty on giving his parole not to take part in the future in any operations against the Soviet Government. Later, however, he broke his parole and fought against the Bolsheviks in the armies of General Denikine and General Yudenich.
The report stated also that there was “no terror during the first six months of Bolshevik rule.”
Telegrams exchanged between Colonel Robins in Moscow and Mr. Francis in Vologda revealed that they knew of no organised opposition to the Soviet Government in Russia. The death of General Kornilov was considered “the final blow” for the organised internal force against the Soviet Government. The telegram commenting on the death of Kornilov was dated April 20, 1918. The civil war had ended and this complete assertion of Soviet power was achieved without resorting to terror.
Then Russia’s former Allies started the military intervention directed against the established Soviet Power. It is only then that the Soviet Government started to resist that intervention. As to accusations of mistreatment of British residents in Archangel, it is interesting to quote from a letter by Douglas Young, the British Consul:
As regards British residents at Archangel, I can state with authority that, so far from being at any time molested, they were accorded many privileges and exemptions to which they had no rights; and I am certain that if they could speak their minds they would complain bitterly, not of the Bolshevists, but of the Allied diplomatic representatives, who themselves fled to safety to the cover of the Allied guns, leaving British men, women, and children to take their chance of emerging from the oncoming wave of intervention. We all lived for months under the dread of mob violence at German instigation, but I never at any time feared outrage by or with the sanction of the responsible Soviet authorities, so long as neutrality was observed; and I am glad of an opportunity of stating that I found the Soviet representatives at all times far more accessible and responsive to reasonable demands than the discourteous and overbearing officials who so often represented the Imperial Russian Government.
There were many terrorist acts committed by the Russian troops supported by the Allies. They were reported by official Allied sources. The Allied governments protested against them only in the measure in which they were proving embarrassing. The available documentation is too abundant. We shall only mention a few cases.
In his memoirs, General Wrangel recalls:
We took three thousand prisoners and a large number of machine guns..
I ordered three hundred and seventy of the Bolshevists to line up. They were all officers and non-commissioned officers, and I had them shot on the spot. Then I told the rest that they too deserved death, but that I had let those who had misled them take the responsibility for their treason, because I wanted to give them a chance to atone for their crime and prove their loyalty to their country.
Weapons were distributed to them immediately, and two weeks later they went to the fighting line.
Killing prisoners was an act of terrorism, recruiting an army under the threat of death is also a form of terrorism. It could not pay. The soldiers would often join the Bolshevik ranks on the first occasion.
The Manchester Guardian correspondent wrote in the July 13, 1920 issue concerning the question “How do the ‘Whites’ treat their prisoners”:
It was difficult to know what was done with prisoners thus taken. When questioned on the subject, the White officers always said: ‘Oh, we kill all of them that are Communists.’ Jews and commissaries stood no chance, of course, but it was somewhat difficult to ascertain which of the others were Communists. The system generally followed was this. From among the prisoners a man who ‘looked like a Bolshevik’ was led aside, accused with great violence of being a notorious Communist, but afterwards promised that his life would be spared if he gave the names of all those among his companions whom he knew to belong to the Bolshevik party. This ingenious scheme, which was tried on more than one victim in each party of prisoners, generally resulted in a number of Red soldiers being executed
As to the second question “How did the ‘Whites’ behave towards the villagers?”, the same correspondent writes:
Villages suspected of giving information to the enemy were sometimes burned and all the inhabitants killed. In one village the priest, together with his wife and son, were killed. In another village, which the Whites occupied for one night, a number of Reds, who had been hiding in a windmill attacked Koltchak’s troops during the darkness and cleared them out of the village. Next day the Whites retook the village, burned it to the ground, and killed all the inhabitants, men, women and children.
General Graves write:
There were horrible murders committed, but they were not committed by the Bolsheviks as the world believes. I am well on the side of safety when I say that the anti-Bolsheviks killed one hundred people in Eastern Siberia, to everyone killed by the Bolsheviks.
The President of the United States wrote to Lansing, the Secretary of State, asking about General Gregori Semenov if “there is any legitimate way in which we can assist.” In another context, General Graves writes:
This is the same Semeonoff who in 1919, had robbed a New York company of a train load of furs, reported as being worth one-half a million dollars; this is the same Semeonoff who took three Americans, who had taken their discharge from the Army, and remained in Siberia, and brutally murdered them for no reason except that they were wearing the uniform of the American Army. This murder was after I left Siberia, but I was informed of this by Mr. John F, Stevens, and I sent a report of the same to the War Department. This is the same Semenonoff who later came to the United States through the port of Vancouver, B.C., and went direct to Washington and I know conferred with one American official, and I imagine he conferred with others.
Colonel Morrow found, as he was coming out of Siberia, that the officer who had been sent to Siberia to report to Consul General Harris.. according to the officer’s own statement, attached himself to Semeonoff headquarters. Colonel Morrow said to this officer, when he told him that he was with Semeonoff: “Do you know what a murderer he his? Do you know he has killed some of my men?” The officer replied: “Semeonoff is the only thing standing between civilization and Bolshevism, and I do not intend to listen to anything against Semeonoff.”
..As to the arrival of Semeonoff in the United States in 1922, I have reason for thinking his trip was not unexpected by the Immigration Officials of the United States, notwithstanding the fact that he had brutally murdered Americans
..While Colonel Morrow was in Chita, Semeonoff’s headquarters, he saw an American Red Cross train, with the doors of the car open and Semeonoff’s soldiers helping themselves to the Red Cross supplies..I sent the report to Dr. Teusler, requesting comment... He did not deny that this vile murderer of Russians and of American soldiers, whose actions have placed him beyond the pale of civilization, was being given American Red Cross supplies for the use of his troops, such supplies having been purchased with money contributed by the generous people of the United States.
Semeonoff is not the only vile character supported by the Allies. Their anti-communism was not motivated by their belief in terrorism being a way of life of Bolsheviks. They themselves did not mind a terrorist at all, provided he was anti-Bolshevik.
Recommending the withdrawal of the American expedition in Siberia, Secretary of State Lansing sent a memorandum to Wilson on December 29, 1919 where he mentioned that:
The armies of the Bolsheviki have advanced in Eastern Siberia, where they are reported to be acting with moderation. The people seem to prefer them to the officers of the Kolchak regime.
General Graves reported that “ninety-eight percent of the people in Siberia are Bolsheviki” and that “they are working for peace and the good of the country and in my opinion they are trying to be fair and just to the people”. Fair and just! Some terrorists!
The following extract of a pamphlet issued by Chief Rabbi in Great Britain, Dr. J.H. Hertz, and titled ‘A Decade of Woe and Hope’ gives additional evidence on the ‘White Terror’:
Three million Jews of the Ukraine were handed out helpless and hopeless, to murder and dishonour.. Historians have for centuries dwelt on the tragedy and inhumanity of the expulsion of the 150,000 Jews of Spain. But throughout 1919 and 1920 we have had in the Ukraine not merely the expulsion of a similar number of human beings, but their extermination by the wild hordes of Denikin, Petlura, Grigoriev, Makhno and other bandits, raging like wild beasts amid the defenceless Jewries of South Russia. ‘The massacres of the Jews in the Ukraine can find, for thoroughness and extent, no parallel except in the massacres of the Armenians’ is the verdict of Sir Horace Rumbold H.M. Minister at Warsaw, in a report to the Foreign Office that was widely circulated at the time. Wholesale slaughter and violation, drownings and burnings and burials alive, became not merely commonplaces, but the order of the day. There were pogroms that lasted a week; and in several towns the diabolic torture and outrage and carnage were continued for a month. In many populous Jewish communities there were no Jewish survivors left to bury the dead, and thousands of Jewish wounded and killed were eaten by dogs; in others, the synagogues were turned into charnel houses by the pitiless butcher of those who sought refuge in them. If we add to the figures mentioned above, the number of the indirect victims who, in consequence of the robbery and destruction that accompanied these massacres, were swept away by famine, disease, exposure, and all manner of privations — the dread total will be very near half-a-million human beings.
Yet all this persecution, torture, slaughter, continued for nearly two years without any protest by the civilized powers, with hardly any notice in the English Press of this systematic extermination.
And still, in July 1919, General Briggs, Chief of the British Military Mission to General Denikin, declared to a representative of Reuter’s agency:
On my return to England my attention was drawn to certain statements as to ‘atrocities’ and various form of outrage resulting from General Denikin’s administration, and I am glad to take the earliest opportunity on my arrival in England to say that from the beginning to end they are utterly false and are prompted by German and Bolshevist propaganda.
If this was true, why then was Churchill cabling to South Russia on September 18:
It is of the very highest consequence that General Denikin should not only do everything in his power to prevent massacres of the Jews in the liberated districts, but should issue a proclamation against Anti-Semitism.
Churchill must have been aware that something was going on. A proclamation against anti-Semitism would be important to Churchill in his defence of Denikin. It seemed however that the massacres did not stop. Churchill cabled Denikin on October 7, 1919, urging him “to redouble efforts to restrain Anti-Semitic feeling and to vindicate the honour of the Volunteer Army.”
In ‘The Slaughter of the Jews in the Ukraine in 1919’, by E. Heifetz, p. 97 we can read:
An objective study of the investigations of the authorized agent of the relief committee of the Red Cross and the annals of the Jews in the Ukraine leads to the conclusion that the Soviet troops preserved the Jews from complete annihilation. Retirement of the Soviet troops signified for the territory left behind the beginning of a period of pogroms with all their horrors. On the other hand, the advance of the Soviet troops meant the liberation from a nightmare
Transportation Of The Czech Troops To France
A large number of Czech soldiers enrolled in the Austro-Hungarian army deserted during the war and became prisoners in Russia. In March 1917 a request was granted to them to organise a distinct Czecho-Slovak army which fought along the Russian army. On March 26, 1918 the Bolshevik Government agreed to transport the Czecho-Slovak army to Vladivostock from which the Allies would transport them to France. The Czech soldiers were to be disarmed. This was requested by Russia so that she could state that the Czech troops were transported through Russia as civilians.
This agreement, having been made after the German-Russian peace of Brest-Litovsk, represented an unfriendly gesture towards Germany and a friendly one towards the Allies. The Czecho-Slovaks agreed to surrender their arms except for ten rifles and one machine-gun per hundred soldiers, for protection against possible bandits attacks.
In April 1918, Great Britain and Japan invaded Siberia and occupied Vladivostock. The Bolshevik Government would have then been justified in preventing the Czech army from reaching that city, and thus possibly reinforcing the invaders. Instead, the Bolshevik Government remained faithful to the agreement.
By May 31, 12,000 troops had been conveyed to Vladivostok and, though some of them had already reached the port fifty seven days before, the Allied Governments had provided no ships for their transport to the Western front.
The Czecho-Slovak army did not keep their side of the agreement. We quote from one of their officers relating to the ‘Daily Telegraph’ (May 27th. 1919):
The order was anything but popular with our men. They succeeded in evading it to a large extent. They hid their rifles where they could, under the cars, and in partitions which they made inside the cars, where they stored any number of rifles, cartridges, and hand-grenades. The superfluous rifles and ammunition were then handed over to the Bolsheviks..
..Our soldiers did wonderful work, disguising themselves as Red Guards, mixing with the Bolsheviks, and finding out all about the emplacement of the base depots, the ammunition depots, and the provision canters. The information was afterwards of use to our commanders, who were thus able to occupy them when necessary.
Troops heading to Vladivostock, to be transported to France, are in no need to plan the future occupation of military positions in Siberia. Hiding arms was contravening the agreement with the Bolshevik Government.
It would take too much space to describe the circumstances in which the Czecho-Slovaks attacked Bolshevik barracks and occupied the Siberian town of Cheliabinsk and which induced the Bolshevik authorities to insist, more than ever, on the disarming, as agreed, of the Czecho-Slovak troops.
On June 4, 1918, the British, French, Italian and US diplomatic representatives in Russia informed the Bolshevik Government that they would consider the disarming of the Czecho-Slovak forces as an unfriendly act.
Bruce Lockhart blames the French for all these problems. There is, however, enough evidence to lay the blame on all the Allies. Bruce Lockhart writes:
Not unnaturally, the Germans protested violently against the presence, on what was now neutral Russia territory, of a large force, which was to be used against them. Nevertheless, I succeeded in securing Trotsky’s good-will, and but for the folly of the French I am convinced that the Czechs would have been safely evacuated without incident. My task was not made easier by the last-minute requests of the British Government to use my influence to persuade Trotsky to divert the Czechs to Archangel. This too, at a time when General Poole was already in North Russia, advocating a policy of intervention, which was subsequently adopted and which never amounted to anything more than an armed intervention against Bolshevism.
The Allied responsibility is clearly shown in the following quote from the Czecho-Slovak National Council in New-York on July 27 1918:
The question , however, of staying in Russia, or getting out does not depend on the Czecho-Slovaks alone. That is something which must be decided by the Allies. The Czecho-Slovak Army is one of the Allied Armies, and it is as much under the orders of the Versailles War Council as the French or American Army. No doubt the Czecho-Slovak boys in Russia are anxious to avoid participation in a possible civil war in Russia, but they realize at the same time that by staying where they are they may be able to render far greater services, both to Russia and the Allied cause, than if they were transported to France. They are at the orders of the Supreme War Council of the Allies.
This proves that there was no obstacle to the evacuation of the Czecho-Slovak army except for the will of the Allies. If the main enemy were Germany, that army would have been more useful in France than at thousands of miles from the war front with Germany.
In defiance of the facts known to all the Allied leaders, the US issued a declaration on August 3, 1918 which stated:
As the Government of the United States sees the present circumstances, therefore, military action is admissible in Russia now only to render such protection and help as is possible to the Czecho-Slovaks against the armed Austrians and German prisoners who are attacking them, and to steady any efforts at self-government or self-defence in which the Russian themselves may be willing to accept assistance
Similar declarations were issued by France and Britain. The rumours of Austrian and German prisoners having been freed and armed in Siberia was an old one. It was investigated by W.L. Hicks, Captain of the British Mission in Moscow, and by William B. Webster, Captain and attaché to the American Red Cross Mission in Russia. The two officers reported that a very small numbers of these prisoners were allowed to join the Red Guard if they were vouched for by three responsible Russians as being Socialists of standing, if in addition, after six months they renounced their old allegiance and become citizens of Russia. The authorities guaranteed that their total number would not be more than 1500 in all Siberia. They would never be allowed to act independently and would always be under the control and command of Russian Socialists. We quote from the end of the report:
We can well say that we found all the Soviet authorities with whom we came in contact sincere and bright men, good leaders, thorough partisans of their party, and seeming in all cases to well represent the cause for which the Soviet Government stands. We feel therefore, that their assurances to us concerning the limitation in regard to the arming of prisoners is a statement upon which faith and confidence can be based. The Soviets have both the power and the inclination to carry out this guarantee.
We can but add, after seeing the armed prisoners and the type of men which they are, that we feel there is no danger to the Allied cause through them
While the US pretended to intervene in Siberia for the purpose of
helping the Czecho-Slovak troops, she was part of a plot that had other motivations. We quote from ‘American Policy Towards Russia’ by Frederick L. Schuman:
The American Consul Grey, at Omsk, received a cipher message from the American Consulate at Samara, dated July 22, 1918, which transmitted a communication from Consul General Poole, in Moscow under date of June 18: “You may inform the Czechoslovak leaders, confidentially, that pending further notice the Allies will be glad, from a political point of view, to have them hold their present position. On the other hand they should not be hampered in meeting the military exigency of the situation. It is desirable, first of all, that they should secure the control of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and second, if this is assumed at the same time possible, (possibly) retain control over the territory which they now dominate. Inform the French representative that the French Consul General joins in these instructions!”
The necessity not to reveal the reasons for intervention lead sometimes to confusion in diplomatic ranks. General Graves writes concerning our previous quotation from Frederick S. Schuman:
The Mr. Poole referred to, is the same man who later had charge of the Russian affairs in the State Department in Washington. This shows that American Consul General Poole, in European Russia, without giving his authority, on June 18, 1918, was taking sides in the Russian conflict in Siberia, while on June 8, Consul General Harris, in Siberia, said that all United States Government representatives had specific instructions not to take sides in Russian affairs, and not to take sides in party strifes. Mr. Harris pursued this policy until July 2, when he stated that he received confirmation from the “Peking Legation” of the intention of the United States to engage in military intervention, which had for its object hostile action against the Soviets, no matter what reasons were publicly stated.
General Graves goes on to say that neither Poole nor Harris nor the Peking Legation represented the real US policy. This is hard to believe in view of the fact that Poole was chosen to become the head of the Department of Russian affairs. Graves himself is forced to conclude with throwing some blame on the US Government:
I was in command of the United States troops sent to Siberia and, I must admit, I do not know what the United States was trying to accomplish by military intervention.
As has been clearly shown, one must discard the statements of the United States, in August 1918, that troops were being sent to rescue the Czechs from the German and Austrian prisoners, who were reported as having been released from prisons, and were organizing with the object of getting the military supplies at Vladivostok, taking the Trans-Siberian Railroads, and sending supplies to Germany. These reports were untrue. Major Drysdale, U.S. Army, from Peking, and Mr. Webster from Moscow, were sent to investigate and ascertain if these reports were true, and had reported they had no foundation in fact.
...The action of the State Department representatives in helping Kolchak, whose sole object was the destruction of the Soviets, justifies the conclusion that the United States was a party to the efforts to overthrow the Soviets, as Kolchak was unquestionably fighting them.
Edouard Benes, obviously an authority in whatever relates to the Czechoslovak troops mentions that, on April 1, the British War Office suggested that Czech troops either occupy Siberia in the vicinity of Omsk, or else join Semenov’s force in Trans-Baikal.
The hypocrisy of the whole argument is made evident by a reply to a note sent by William Philips, Assistant Secretary of State, suggesting the retention of the Czech troops in the far-East where they may be needed to reinforce Russian opposition. Joseph E. Grew, active chief of the Western European division replied in June 25 1918
Mr Miles and I agree that it would be highly desirable to have these Czecho-Slovak troops remain in Siberia, but to go on record as recommending it to the British Government might prove embarrassing in connection with our attitude toward Japanese intervention. Would it not be better to concur with the British in their plans for transporting them if and when it is found practicable to spare sufficient tonnage from Allied needs? Mr. Miles informs me that there are now about 16,000 Czecho-Slovak troops in Vladivostok, about 30,000 between Irkutsk and the sea, and another 30,000 to 50,000 in other parts of Russia. It seems very improbable that sufficient tonnage will be available to transport all or even a great part of this number in the near future
This is a clear indication that the United States hoped that no transportation would be available for removing the Czech troops from Vladivostok. It is therefore understandable that the United States would make no efforts to provide such transportation.
Unterberger mentions that:
In the spring of 1919 the American Military Intelligence prepared a report on the activities of the Czechs in Siberia from the materials which were then available to them. Although recognising the inadequacies of the material examined, the report concluded that the Czech claims of a treacherous attack by the Bolsheviks, German agents, and war prisoners were unfounded in fact; that the Czechs could have safely accomplished their original purpose to withdraw; and that the Czechs did not fully abide by their promise to surrender their arms and keep out of the Russian internal affairs. The report also indicated that the Czech diversion from their original purpose to withdraw was probably due to the interference of one of the Allied powers
Let us close with a quote by C.H. Smith who represented the U.S. Government on the “Inter-Allied Railway Committee” from a speech to the ‘Foreign Policy Association’ on March 4, 1922:
In 1918 the Allied decided to aid Czechs — who, by the way, didn’t need the aid and without which they extricated themselves.
The Allies then decided that since they were there they must aid somebody, so they decided to aid the Russians — who hadn’t asked for aid.
As a result, the Inter-Allied Committee was formed — of which I had the good fortune or misfortune (I don’t know which) to be a member
Military Intervention In Russia. Why?
Churchill was the most fervent advocate for military intervention in Russia. He knew that this meant invading Russia and intervening in its internal affairs. While other politicians where shy to recognise it, he, Churchill, did not mind expressing himself clearly:
The fitful and fluid operation of the Russian armies found a counterpart in the policy, or want of policy, of the Allies. Where they at war with Soviet Russia? Certainly not; but they shot Soviet Russians at sight. They stood as invaders on Russian soil. They blockaded its ports, and sunk its battleships. They earnestly desired and schemed its downfall. But war — shocking! Interference — shame! It was, they repeated, a matter of indifference to them how Russia settled their own internal affairs.
The hypocrisy of the politicians who did not dare recognise publicly the real reasons of the military intervention is crudely exposed by Churchill in the preceding quote. The motivation was ideological: to suppress the Soviet regime.
It had to be suppressed
w not because it was a terrorist regime, it was not.
w not because it was not representative of the will of the people, it was.
w not because it was a puppet in the hands of Germany, it was not.
w not because it endangered the safety of the Czecho-Slovak troops, it was not.
w not because it was disliked by the Western countries. A dislike against the Tsarist autocratic regime never motivated the Allies against it.
It had to be suppressed because the Allies were afraid that it appealed, or could appeal more and more, to masses all over the world, including those in their own country
The Bolshevik revolution was proud of its Russian, French, German and British origin. The British establishment was avoiding reference to the British roots of the Bolshevik revolution. Bolshevism had to be represented as a foreign ideology, totally alien to the British spirit, way of life and aspirations.
Later, the establishment would find in the Stalinist regime of terror, in the foreign policy of Soviet Union and in the military power of that country material to justify an anti-communism of a national character. It is necessary to remember that, in its origin, the establishment’s anticommunism was not national but ‘blind’ and disregarding the national interest. This blind anticommunism was the main political drive of Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement.
In a short sentence, Lockhart summarised the British motivation for their intervention against the Bolsheviks in Russia. Though we quoted it before, it is a proper conclusion to this chapter:
Hate of the revolution and fear of its consequences in England were the dominant reactions of the Conservatives..
Bruce Lockhart was an insider to the British politics. There is no reason to doubt his conclusion, especially when evidence supports it so well.
1  W.P. Coates and Zelda K. Coates, ‘Armed intervention in Russia’, Victor Gollancz Ltd, London, 1935. The book contains a wealth of reliable information otherwise available in widely dispersed sources.
2  Bruce Lockhart, “Memoirs of a British Agent”, Putnam, London, 1932, p. 197. Bruce Lockart was a ‘British agent’ in Russia. This title was given to him in lieu of Ambassador, in view of the policy of non-recognition of the Bolshevik Regime
3  Georges F. Kennan, “Russia and the West”, Mentor books, New-York, 1961, p. 35
4  Coates, Op. Cit., p. 49
5  Ronald Blythe, op. cit., p. 27
6  Quoted from Coates, Op. Cit. p. 24
7  Robert J. Maddox, ‘The Unknown War with Russia’, Presidio Press, San Rafael, California, 1977, p. 41. The author quotes a letter from Sir William Wiseman, a confidential British Representative to the United States, reporting on a conversation with President Wilson.
8  Coates, op. cit., p. 218
9  ibid., Op. Cit., p. 232
10  William S. Graves, ‘America’s Siberian Adventure’, Jonathan Cape & Harrison Smith, New York, 1931, p. 157
11  Coates, Op. Cit., p. 281. He quotes from Hodgson book ‘With Denikin’s armies’, p 186
12  Coates, Op. Cit., p.45
13  ibid., pp. 103-4
14  ibid., p. 195
15  Winston Churchill, ‘The World Crisis’, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, vol 5, 1957, p. 169. The book was first printed in 1929 under the title ‘The Aftermath’
16  Coates, Oper. Cit., p. 29
17  ibid., p. 29
18  Bruce Lockhart, ‘Memoirs of a British agent’, Putnam, London, 1933, p. 288
19  Coates, Oper. Cit., pp. 84-5
20  ibid., pp. 64-5
21  W.S. Graves, op., cit., pp. 22-23
22  Coates, op. cit., pp. 67
23  George F, Kennan (op. cit., p. 61) affirms that Russia was not seriously considering rebuilding a front against Germany. The surest way to have known it was to accept Russia’s offer, call its bluff, if such it was. Having rejected the offer, the allies have no leg to stand on when they plead the insincerity of the offer.
24  ibid., pp. 71
25  ibid., pp. 73-4
26  Betty Miller Unterberger, ‘America’s Siberian Expedition, 1918-1920’, Duke University Press, Durnham, N.C. 1956, p. 41, note 9
27  ibid, pp. 79-80
28  ibid, pp. 78-79
29  ibid, p. 91
30  ‘The Memoirs of General Wrangel’, Williams & Norgate Ltd, London, 1929, pp 58-59
31  ibid, p.209
32  Graves, Op. Cit., p108
33  Robert J. Maddox, op. cit., p. 40
34  Graves, op. cit., pp. 313-4
35  Maddox, op. cit., p.126
36  Betty Miller Unterberger, p. 233, note 8.
37  Coates, Op. cit., pp. 288-9
38  ibid, p. 290
39  Op. cit. “World Crisis”, p. 265
40  ibid, p. 265
41  Coates, op. cit., p. 291
42  ibid, pp. 105-107
43  Bruce Lockhart, Op. Cit., p272.
44  Coates, Op. Cit., p. 112
45  ibid, p.114. William S. Graves, op. cit., pp 7-8, mentions a text quite similar as part of the presidential instructions given to him as guidelines to his mission as head of the American expedition in Siberia.
46  ibid, pp. 117-8
47  Graves, op. cit. p. 70. The author is quoting Frederik S. Schuman.
48  ibid, pp 70-71
49  ibid, op. cit., pp. 354-6
50  Unterberger, op. cit., p. 54. The author is referring to Benes book ‘My War Memoirs’ (Boston 1928), p. 357
51  ibid, p.56
52  ibid, p. 59
53  Coates, op. cit., p. 119
54  Winston, S. Churchill, Oper. Cit., pp. 243-244
55  Churchill was not criticizing the armed intervention in Russia. He was of the opinion that there was no need to be shy about it and not to call a spade a spade. He would have rather used the words ‘invasion’, ‘war’, blockaded etc.. Being proud of what he was advocating, he had no qualms using the proper words. In many other circumstances (Greece, ‘defence of democracy’) he later would be much less open.