President Wilson's speech of December 26th has just been delivered to Brest-Litovsk by Colonel Raymond Robins. I'm sending it to you. I hope it will be properly used.
The sitting has just taken place. Trotsky made a great and, in its way, really fine speech, calculated for the whole of Europe, in which he gave way entirely. He accepts, he says, the German-Austria 'ultimatum,' and will remain in Brest-Litovsk, as he will not give us the satisfaction of being able to blame Russia for the continuance of the war. See more
In the evening I had another long talk with Kühlmann and Hoffmann, in the course of which the General and the Secretary of State came to high words between themselves. Hoffmann, elated at the success of our ultimatum to Russia, wished to go on in the same fashion and 'give the Russians another touch of the whip.' Kühlmann and I took the opposite view, and insisted that proceedings should be commenced quietly, confining ourselves to the matters in hand, clearing up point by point as we went on, and putting all doubtful questions aside. Once we had got so far, in clearing up things generally, we could then take that which remained together, and possibly get telegraphic instructions from the two Emperors for dealing therewith. This is undoubtedly the surest way to avoid disaster and a fresh breach.
A new conflict has cropped up with the Ukrainians. They now demand recognition of their independence, and declare they will leave if this is not conceded.
This forenoon, all the Russians arrived, under the leadership of Trotski. They at once sent a message asking to be excused for not appearing at meals with the rest for the future. At other times also we see nothing of them. The wind seems to be in a very different quarter now from what it was See more
. The German officer who accompanied the Russian delegation from Dunaburg, Captain Baron Lamezan, gave us some interesting details as to this. In the first place, he declared that the trenches in front of Dunaburg are entirely deserted, and save for an outpost or so there were no Russians there at all; also, that at many stations delegates were waiting for the deputation to pass, in order to demand that peace should be made. Trotski had throughout answered them with [Pg 233]polite and careful speeches, but grew ever more and more depressed. Baron Lamezan had the impression that the Russians were altogether desperate now, having no choice save between going back with a bad peace or with no peace at all; in either case with the same result: that they would be swept away. Kühlmann said: 'Ils n'ont que le choix à quelle sauce ils se feront manger.' I answered: 'Tout comme chez nous.'
"A wire has just come in reporting demonstrations in Budapest against Germany. The windows of the German Consulate were broken, a clear indication of the state of feeling which would arise if the peace were to be lost through our demands.
Trotsky has raised another awkward question by proposing to appoint a Russian Representative in London. It is very difficult for us to consent to this, while, if we refuse, he may retaliate by divesting the AUied Embassies of their diplomatic immunities. See more
I have pointed out to the Foreign Office that we shall have to choose between coming to some working arrangement with the Bolsheviks or breaking with them altogether. A complete rupture would leave the Germans a clear field in Russia and would deprive our vested interests of such protection as the Embassy can give them. We should, therefore, in my opinion, only have recourse to it in the last resort.
Trotsky, who is leaving for Brest Litovsk to renew; the peace negotiations, is now accusing us of intending to make a peace sur le dos de la Russie. He told a friend of mine yesterday that it is clear from what Mr. Lloyd George said in a recent speech that the Allies would like to see Germany make a peace ' ' with annexa- tions " with Russia, in the hope that she would, after gorging herself in the east, be more disposed to make concessions in the west. It seems pretty clear from this that he is preparing to beat a retreat and to accept Germany's terms.
There has been a hitch in the peace negotiations. The Pravda (“Truth’’) publishes articles such as “ The Mask Torn Off,” and as the Novaya Jizn ("The New Life”) says, makes big eyes ofinnocence!! The hitch has come over the interpretation of the principle, “No annexations”. See more
The Germans refuse to withdraw their troops from Poland and Kurland and from parts of Latvia and Esthonia on the ground that these provinces have declared that they are in favour of absolute separation from Russia and of independence within the German sphere of influence.
Trotsky is now making warlike speeches and talking of a volunteer army !
The question is, how can an able man like Trotsky have expected anything else, and, if lie expected this, why did he allow the Russian army to be destroyed?
Stalin’s report on Orenburg, the Ural region and Turkestan. The possibility of cutting Siberia off from Russia. Orders for comrades Stalin and Kolegaev: 1) to hold talks with the Military Commissariat on the immediate fulfilment of the demands for military assistance and to monitor the execution of these demands; 2) having agreed on the necessity of dispatching money to Samara, to hold talks with the Military Commissariat and the manager of the State Bank on the size of the required sum and the details of its delivery.
Our position is becoming very difficult as, while it is impossible for our Government to yield to threats, it is very hard on our subjects, who have come here from the provinces on their way home, to be put to the expense of remaining on indefinitely. See more
I do not, moreover, at all want to see the members of our propaganda bureau arrested. There is, after all, something in Trotsky's argument that, if we claim the right to arrest Russians for making a pacifist propaganda in a country bent on continuing the war, he has an equal right to arrest British subjects who are conducting a war propaganda in a country bent on peace.
This government has found it impossible to recognize Lenin, Trotsky and their associates as the de facto government of Russia, since there is inadequate evidence that they are the real agents of the sovereignty of the Russian people. See more
When the Bolshevik faction under the leadership of Lenin seized by force the public offices at Petrograd and Moscow arresting or expelling the provisional ministers and military commanders who had obtained authority through legal succession from the revolutionary body which had come into power on abdication of the Czar, they set up in those two cities arbitrary and irresponsible authority based solely on physical control over the residents.
Dedicated as the Government of the United States is to the principle of democracy and to a special order based on individual liberty and the supremacy of the popular will operating through liberal institutions, it cannot but consider the attempt by any class of society, whether distinguished by birth, wealth, occupation or poverty, to arrogate to itself superior political authority to be inimical to democracy. Such class despotism differs only from autocratic monarchy in that the sovereign authority is in the latter case exercised by an individual without sanction of the popular will while in the former case it is exercised by a group of individuals. Upon despotisms of every nature the people of the United States have looked invariably with disfavor as subversive of the rights of man, and hostile to justice and liberty.
Holding these views, this government has watched with deep concern the overthrow by force of the provisional authority representing the revolution at Petrograd, and that on the eve of the popular election of a Constituent Assembly called to establish a constitutional government based on the principle of democracy.
The American people have rejoiced with the people of Russia in the dawn of a democratic era and the prospects of an orderly exercise of popular sovereignty through agencies lawfully and peaceably created. They have been prepared to give every moral and material aid to Russia in her period of transition from absolutism to constitutional democracy; and this sympathetic spirit has been increased by the conviction that the Russian nation, like this nation, recognized in the Imperial German Government the greatest peril to liberty and democracy in the world and especially threatening to new-born freedom in Russia. Convinced of the mutual appreciation of the German menace this government naturally anticipated that the Russian democracy would with the zeal and determination of a people jealous of their rights resist the intrigues of German agents and prosecute with courage and vigor the war which the free people of the world are waging against Prussian militarism.
Relying upon a full realization by the Russian people of the imminent danger to their political and territorial integrity from autocratic Germany and upon their faithful adherence to their cobelligerents, this government has watched with disappointment and amazement the rise of class despotism in Petrograd and the open efforts of the leaders of the Bolsheviki to withdraw from the conflict even at the expense of national honor and the future safety of democracy in Russia.
It has been justly claimed that democracies sacredly perform their treaty obligations whatever the cost may be, that they are hostile to autocracy and unswervingly loyal to nations which have befriended them in their time of need. Russia, as the world knows, is overwhelmingly democratic in spirit and purpose, and yet those who today claim to represent the nation threaten to violate treaties made with other free peoples, to make friends with the most inveterate enemy of Russian aspirations, and to abandon the faithful friends of Russia in the great struggle against the Prussian autocracy.
Trotsky, I hear, is very angry with me for not answering his note. On my sending Consul Woodhouse to endeavor to obtain the necessary permission for some of our subjects to go home, he said that it had been decided that no British subjects would be allowed to leave Russia till the question of the two interned Russians had been satisfactorily settled. See more
He added that Chicherin was a personal friend of his, and he was particularly anxious to secure his release as he proposed appointing him his diplomatic representative in one of the Allied capitals. In the event of our Government refusing to release him, he threatened to arrest certain British subjects whom he knew to be counter-revolutionaries.
About half-past nine the same evening General Niessel, the French military representative, came to see me. Trotzky, he said, had told a French officer, who was a Socialist and in close touch with the Bolsheviks, that he had a special grudge against me, not because I was indisposing my Government against him, but because I had, ever since the overthrow of the late Government, not only been in constant touch with Kaledin and the committee of public safety but had even supplied the latter with funds. He was therefore contemplating arresting me, and should this lead to a rupture of relations between our two Gk>vernments he would keep a certain number of British subjects as hostages. General Niessel did not think that Trotzky would dare arrest me in the Embassy, but as he knows that I am in the habit of taking a daily walk he might do so when I was out of doors. By way of cheering me, the General added that, from inquiries which he had made, he believed that the most comfortable cells in the fortress were between the Numbers 30 and 86 and that should the worst happen I had better bear this in mind.
I did not take Trotzky's threat too seriously and continued my walks as usual without any unpleasant consequences. Only once, as I was turning into a side street off the quay, I nearly got into the middle of a fight that was going on at the other end. I w^as fortunately stopped in time by a friend of ours. Princess Marie Troubetzkoi, who happened to be passing. She assured me that she had saved my life, and insisted on seeing me safe home to the Embassy, as no one would, she said, attack me if I was with a lady.
Trotsky has communicated to the Allied military attaches a note asserting that his Government never desired a separate but a general peace, but that it was determined to have peace. It will, the note concluded, be the fault of the Allied Governments if Russia has after all to make a separate peace. See more
I have come to the conclusion that the only thing for us to do is to faire bonne mine a mauvais jeu. Acting on an idea originally suggested by Knox, I have telegraphed to the Foreign Office as follows:
"I share the view, already expressed by General Knox, that the situation here has become so desperate that we must reconsider our attitude.
In my opinion, the only safe course left to us is to give Russia back her word and to tell her people that, realizing how worn out they are by the war and the disorganization inseparable from a great revolution, we leave it to them to decide whether they will purchase peace on Germany's terms or fight on with the Allies, who are determined not to lay down their arms till binding guarantees for the world's peace have been secured. It has always been my one aim and object to keep Russia in the war, but one cannot force an exhausted nation to fight against its will. If anything could tempt Russia to make one more effort, it would be the knowledge that she was perfectly free to act as she pleased, without any pressure from the Allies. There is evidence to show that Germany is trying to make an irreparable breach between us and Russia, so as to pave the way for the German protectorate which she hopes eventually to establish over the latter. For us to hold to our pound of flesh and to insist on Russia fulfilling her obligations, under the 1914 Agreement, is to play Germany's game. Every day that we keep Russia in the war against her will does but embitter her people against us. If we release her from those obligations, the national resentment will turn against Germany if peace is delayed or purchased on too onerous terms. For us it is a matter of life and death to checkmate this latest German move, for a Russo-German Alliance after the war would constitute a perpetual menace to Europe, and more especially to Great Britain.
I am not advocating any transaction with the Bolshevik Government. On the contrary, I believe that the adoption of the course which I have suggested will take the wind out of their sails, as they will no longer be able to reproach the Allies with driving Russian soldiers to the slaughter for their Imperialistic aims."
The situation continues to stay the same—all power remains in the hands of the Bolsheviks, headed by Lenin and Trotsky; ensign Krylenko has been appointed the War Minister and the Commander-in-Chief, who, according to the newspapers, is heading to the headquarters instead of the deposed General Dukhonin. See more
All governmental organizations have refused to accept the Bolshevik government and are on strike. On all fronts—no changes, but hunger is starting. Elections to the Provisional Government started today.
Mr. Ambassadors, it is my honor to inform you that the All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies has formed a new Government of the Russian Republic in the form of the Council of People's Commissars. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin is the Government’s Chairman. I was entrusted with foreign policy as the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs. See more
Turn your attention to the text of the armistice and democratic peace proposal approved by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies on the basis of self-determination of peoples. I have the honor to ask you to view this document as a formal proposal for an immediate armistice on all fronts and the immediate opening of peace negotiations. It’s a proposal the plenipotentiary of the Government of the Russian Republic addresses simultaneously all the belligerent peoples and their governments.
Rest reassured Mr. Ambassadors with the deepest respect of the Soviet Government to the people of your country, who cannot but strive for peace like all peoples are exhausted and bled by this unprecedented slaughter.
People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs, L. Trotsky
The Bolsheviks are in power. Lenin, Trotsky, Lunacharsky, are national commissioners of Internal Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and National Education. There is a truce offering with Germany. The Allies refuse to recognise the government of the Russian Revolution. And pacifists are blamed for all problems!
We have been terribly anxious for the prisoners since X. returned from the the Peter and Paul Fortress. Things there are bad, the “commandant” himself is afraid of the sailors, who seem capable of anything. We must conspire to have the prisoners removed. See more
Anywhere would be better than that fortress of sailors and Bolsheviks. It would be completely useless to appeal to Trotsky. Besides how repulsive it would be to have any dealings with him, it would be about as useful as trying to strike up a conversation with an ape.
The news out of Moscow is shocking. (They say things have again calmed down, but it is difficult to believe). The city is completely cut off. Telephone lines are down. Lunacharsky, the “patron of culture”, has been pulling his hair out, gasping and screaming (in the papers) that if things continue as they are he will “leave, leave this Bolshevik government”! He’s going nowhere.