Liberty to Brest-Litovsk
CHAPTER XII

THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE BOLSHEVIST POWER


Bolsheviks and Germans—Whence came the money ?—A morality of Lenin—Trotsky and other heroes—Decrees about land and peace—Ensign Krylenko—The separate armistice—The march against the Stavka—Brutal murder of Dukhonin—The Brest-Litovsk Negotiations—Soviet rule—Decrees about the Press—Raiding of newspaper offices.



A.I. SHINGAREV, in his diary for December 1917, thus defines the elements involved in the Bolshevist movement :

1.  (a) The labouring classes, ignorant, politically uneducated, and embittered by social inequality and the economic ruin of the country entailed by the War ;

(b) A mass of unbridled and licentious soldiery, averse from fighting, young, undrilled, and idle, taken away from healthy agricultural labour, at an age when their energies are still seeking an outlet, when they are easily carried away by the most extreme theories.  Masses politically as ignorant, or even more so, than the workmen, and still more inclined to violence and robbery.

2.  Criminals from prison.

3.  Former Tsarist secret police employees who have attached themselves to Bolshevism.

4.  German spies and Germanophiles.

5.  Idealists of the dictatorship of the proletariat, fanatics of Social Revolution, madmen, and adepts at internal class war.

This is a broad and exhaustive analysis of their composition.  Its value is increased by the fact that Shingarev wrote his diary while imprisoned in the Fortress, where he was in constant danger of being lynched by the Reds.  Nevertheless, even in prison, he tried to be just in his estimate of them, and to understand the essence of Bolshevism.

There is a widespread conviction that the Bolsheviks attained power and influence with the help of the Germans.

The officers and Cadets, who had remained loyal to the Provisional Government, related afterwards that the Red Guard in Moscow was commanded by German officers, that German talk was frequently overheard among the soldiers besieging the Kremlin.  Krasnov’s Cossacks also said that the Germans had assisted the Reds in the fighting near Gatchina.  In proportion to the gradual development of Bolshevism, the Soviets made ever more frequent use of German and Magyar prisoners of war for the conquest of Russian territories.  Sometimes these prisoners were disguised as Russian soldiers.  In January 1918 I met on the Neva Embankment at Petrograd two soldiers wearing Russian military overcoats.  I was struck by their soldierly bearing, for by this time soldiers had lost all trace of military discipline.  As these two smart-looking Russian soldiers approached, I overheard them talking in the purest Berlin dialect of what they would do upon their return to Germany.

It is by no means easy to ascertain how far the Bolsheviks employed German aid in their plot to take hold of the Russian State.  Kerensky’s Government had not concluded the investigation of the July revolt.  The veil had only partially been withdrawn by the data published by the Procurator on the 3rd of August.  It certified that Lenin and Zinoviev were arrested in Austria in 1914, then liberated under certain conditions.  That large sums of money were transferred to Petrograd by a Russian Jew Helefant, commonly known among international Socialists by his literary pseudonym of Parvus.  This obscure international speculator, who acquired an enormous fortune, styled himself as the ideal inspirer of Bolshevism.  The German Social-Democrat Haase revealed the strange connections of Parvus with the Imperial German Government.  This fact did not prevent Scheidemann from keeping up friendly relations with Parvus, and from staying with him at Copenhagen in the sumptuous villa of this apostle of the dictatorship of the proletariat.  The Russian Intelligence Department possessed data proving the connection between the Bolsheviks and the German General Staff.  But Kerensky’s Government fell apart, without having published its information, and without arriving at any definite conclusion upon the subject.  At the time of the November coup d’état all the documents of the Intelligence Department, which was immediately seized by the Bolsheviks, apparently fell into the hands of the victors.  Possibly we shall never learn the whole truth of how the Bolsheviks sold and betrayed Russia.  Perhaps only if revolutionary Germany consents to publish the documents of Imperial secret diplomacy, when many curious details concerning Bolshevist activities both before and during the Revolution may come to light, as well as an explanation as to why Lenin had been so graciously allowed to pass through Germany.

At times the Russian and particularly the Foreign Press published various documents pointing to the pecuniary and military connections between the Bolsheviks and the German Government.  However, experts doubt the authenticity of these documents, and logically they contain many contradictions.

But some facts are indubitable.  Firstly, that Lenin and other Bolsheviks passed through Germany when the war was still at a climax.  Secondly, the enormous sums of money at the disposal of the Bolsheviks from the very outset of the Revolution.  No other party, either Socialist or Radical, possessed the means of subsidising or planning their propaganda on such a large scale as did the Bolsheviks.1  They printed papers and pamphlets, freely distributing millions of copies to the army at the front and in the rear.  Their orators received high day-wages.  Soldiers, and especially sailors who had joined the Bolshevist party, had their pockets full of hundred-rouble notes.  When the sailors came to the villages to preach Marxian ideas of universal equalisation of property, the peasants were not so much impressed by their words as by the sight of the banknotes, which the orators dangled carelessly before the simple-minded village audience.

Bolshevist émigrés abroad lived in great poverty.  Later they received money from the Austrian and German Governments and set up publishing Bolshevist papers in Switzerland for Socialistic propaganda among Russian prisoners of war.  Besides the Bolsheviks, the Social-Revolutionaries, first among whom was their leader Chernov, also collaborated in these papers.

At the beginning of the Revolution in Russia the numbers of adherents to Bolshevism, judging by the elections to the Soviets, were not considerable, and they could not provide the enormous sums spent by their leaders.  Even the Petrograd Soviet and the Executive Committee at the zenith of their popularity were poor compared with the Bolshevist organisations.  One is forced to draw the conclusion that the hundreds of thousands, or rather millions, spent by Lenin and his followers were furnished to them from some exchequer which possessed millions at its disposal.  Only banks and state exchequers have the possibility of subsidising propaganda on such a scale.  Bolsheviks were of no advantage to banks, they were rather a menace.  Of all States, Germany and Austria were the only ones interested in the destruction of the Russian Army and State, in the disintegration of the Russian people through the medium of the Bolsheviks.  Therefore we are faced with the only logical solution, that the millions of roubles spent by the Bolsheviks upon agitation and preparation for the seizure of power could only come from German source.

The link uniting the Bolsheviks to the German General Staff can also be mainly established by indirect proofs.  From the outset of the Revolution the propaganda of the Bolsheviks as well as that of other Socialists about ending the war, democratising the army, fraternising with the enemy, met the unanimous support of German propagandists who scattered leaflets at the Russian front.  The text of those pamphlets, printed by order of the Kaiser’s Government, often literally coincided with that text of the leaflets printed in Russia by order of the Central Committees of the Socialist parties.

One cannot omit the fact that Bolshevist propaganda was especially rife and successful in regions of particular strategic importance, or in food-supply centres, equally important strategically.  Helsingfors, Vyborg, Cronstadt, Riga were all approaches to Petrograd.  In Petrograd itself—the Vyborgsky side, Vasilievsky Ostrov, the Putilov and Obukhov munition factories.  On the Volga, the principal corn wharves, and Rybinsk, Tsaritsyn, and Kazan, which contained depots of artillery plant and stores of explosives.

During the armed November coup d’état the Bolsheviks’ dispositions exhibited traces of a military organisation whose specialists were not to be found in their ranks.  The Cossacks, who fought the Red Guards and sailors near Gatchina, were amazed at seeing the Reds execute a specific German manœuvre.

As the civil war waxed stronger the participation of German officers and soldiers became ever plainer.  A Magyar division was organised to oppose General Alexeiev on the Don, and soon became the military backbone of the Bolsheviks.

The Brest-Litovsk Peace was not concluded, when the Germans were already assisting the Bolsheviks in their conquest of Russia.  Later on, as for instance in all the outbursts of civil war in Siberia, the Bolsheviks made still broader use of such assistance.  Detachments composed of these prisoners of war were sometimes called international Socialist detachments.  I happened to witness early in 1918 a Petrograd street demonstration of these internationalists carrying red flags.  Their numbers were yet small, their expression surly and sheepish.  But certainly, owing to German discipline then still very strong, they were more to be depended upon for military support than the Red Guards.

In any case, in spite of the Bolsheviks’ clever capacity for concealing the secrets of their diplomacy, one can boldly assert that the Germans, or rather the Imperial German Government, had in every way from the very first days of the Revolution, if not before, supported the Bolsheviks, encouraged Bolshevism in Russia, and been in close contact with it throughout.2  The former apparatus of military espionage, particularly well organised by the Germans at Petrograd, and in Finland, was transformed by them into an instrument of political propaganda, for they fully realised the advantage of disintegrating Russia’s naval and military power from inside, instead of attacking it with armed force from outside.  And Bolsheviks aspired to a similar disintegration.

It certainly does not follow that Bolshevism as a whole had sold itself to Germany.  Certainly not.  Bolshevism, both in theory and in practice, is a complex phenomenon.  Its ideology is based upon the half-scientific hypothesis of the German Jew, Karl Marx.  Thus Germany becomes the motherland of Bolshevism.  Practical deductions from the experience of the Paris communists were later added to this purely Marxian doctrine, and the whole was subjugated to Lenin’s ambitious tactics and haughty a-morality.  Lenin and Scheidemann, even the late Bebel and Jaurés pursued one aim — the establishment of a class-state with a dictatorship of the proletariat, an annihilation of all personal initiative in production and exchange.  Bolshevism differs from the more moderate tendencies of Social-Democracy in method, date, in its attitude towards parliamentarism, and chiefly in morality.  They all dreamed of a world revolution, but Lenin aimed at its immediate realisation, unhampered by any scruples, and unhesitating before any sacrifice.

I take the liberty of expressing my conviction that to organise the Russian Revolution he had accepted German money — most probably through the intermediary of Parvus, or maybe direct from some high or subordinate German officials.  It would be naive to suppose that Lenin could be bought.  He does not sell himself, but will accept money from any one.  Is it not one and the same to him whose money he takes, once his entire political activity is founded upon the principle that the end justifies the means ?

In that respect Lenin was not by far the first among Russian revolutionaries.  Perhaps the most genuine representative of the type was the well-known revolutionist of the seventies, Nechaev.3  A conspirator with the iron will and merciless hardness of a great inquisitor, he composed the famous catechism of a revolutionary, which bears the same black seal of a-morality—a religious man would call it the seal of Antichrist—as do the words and deeds of Lenin.

A revolutionary despises public opinion, professed Nechaev in his catechism. . . . “ He despises and hates contemporary public morality in all its aspirations and manifestations.  For him morality means everything that promotes the triumph for the Revolution. ... A revolutionary is a doomed man.  Stern unto himself he must also be stern unto others.  All tender, softening ties of relationship, friendship, love, gratitude and even honour itself must be crushed in his heart by the one cold passion of revolution.”

In conformity with this doctrine human beings, “ all this polluted society,” were divided into several categories according to their usefulness for the Revolution.  All could be deceived, exploited or even murdered.  “ Doctrinaires, conspirators and revolutionaries idly expounding at meetings or on paper should be drawn into head-splitting activities which will result in their loss of the majority of votes.”

Even that detail was repeated by Lenin, who knows no mercy neither to bourgeois nor to revolutionary.  Certainly revolutionaries of Nechaev’s or Lenin’s type suffer from what psychiatrists term as moral insanity.  They are particularly dangerous on account of their capacity, frequently to be found in lunatics, of shaping the most fantastic, most criminal dreams into a logical scheme.  It is the psychical state which begets fanatics.  In former times fanaticism generally assumed religious forms, but in our days it assumes a social colouring.  It may be, perhaps, because it seeks the support of the masses, and the contemporary masses fall a far easier prey to a socialistic than to a religious epidemic.

To understand Bolshevism, one must bear in mind that the Bolsheviks deny all moral standards.  In that respect Lenin appears not only as the strongest but as the most characteristic figure.  He draws no limit between truth and falsehood, and lies with the calm shamelessness of a man who is convinced that a universal, social revolution is an aim in itself, and is ready to march towards its realisation knee-deep in mire and blood, through crime and deceit.  All the moral principles fostered by civilisation within the soul of contemporary mankind are simply non-existent in Lenin’s soul.  This moral disease bears a definite name in psychiatry—more insans-and is partly transmitted to his adepts as a new super-moral doctrine.  His contempt for good and evil holds the door wide open for all criminal elements, members of the okhrana, spies, robbers, criminals, who swarm in the Soviets.  But the chief members of the Soviet likewise bear the same stamp, at best of an absence of fastidiousness, and immorality at the worst.

After Lenin, the most influential Bolshevik is Trotsky-Bronstein.  In 1906 he was member of the Soviet of Workmen’s Deputies organised during the first Revolution.  He was arrested, and with some others deported to Siberia, whence he escaped.  For eleven years he led the strenuous life of an émigré, painfully earning his living as a journalist.  But he exhibited no particular talent for his career.  His articles and books were known only among the restricted circles of socialist intelligentsia.

Trotsky is ambitious, adroit, certainly unscrupulous.  Those who have met him assert that the national humiliations and police persecutions which he, as a Jew, suffered from in Russia made him detest Russia.  In any case his actions as Bolshevist Dictator demonstrate if not hatred, then at least a fierce contempt of the Russian people.  A pusillanimous and self-centred man, Trotsky brought over from England a hatred also of that country, because, being suspected of intercourse with the Germans, he was put into an English prison on his way from America to Russia.

Trotsky did not at once become Bolshevik.  In a book written in 1906 and entitled Our Revolution, he professed more moderate views and advocated a Constituent Assembly.  “ Only an all-national Constituent Assembly, holding all the keys and picklocks4 of all rights and privileges, possessing the right of final decision upon all questions, only such a sovereign Constituent Assembly can without hindrance create a new democratic law.”

At the time he still professed Marx’s view that “ Socialism could not be introduced in the place of capitalism by means of a few decrees,” and uttered the warning that would bring the proletariat to a catastrophe.

In this book, Trotsky expressed himself against equal land-distribution, as it would lead to “ a purely formal expropriation of small holders,” and a weakening of revolutionary parties.

And in the spring of 1917 Trotsky appeared in Russia as a Marxian-Bolshevik.  Being ambitious, he knew it would be easier for him to obtain a prominent place among the Bolsheviks, because the Mensheviks mistrusted him.  As an adroit adventurer he realised that the maximum programme would more surely attract the masses and give power to their tempters.  His calculations proved correct.  In April, Trotsky had as yet no influence.  In summer he was imprisoned for organising an armed rising, but already in September was once more at liberty and had ousted Chheidze by occupying his post of President of the Petrograd Soviet.  This offered him the possibility of organising the seizure of power.  At the time of the November coup d’état Trotsky was the leading spirit of the Bolshevist uprising.  He has remained since then as one of the Bolshevist leaders.  An eloquent orator, capable of hypnotising the mob, he rules over part of Russia, violating ideas and human beings, committing treason and crime, realising Machiavelli’s precept, that tyrants must have no fear of bloodshed.

Lenin and Trotsky share power and influence.  Friendship between them there is none.  It is said that they often quarrel.  Yet like two convicts, bound by the same chain, together they go from crime to crime.  And when they perish they will perish together.

There are few Russians among the Bolshevist wirepullers, i.e. few men imbued with the all-Russian culture and interests of the Russian people.  None of them have in any way been prominent in any stage of former Russian life.  Among the Bolshevist Commissaries we may meet absolute foreigners, like the Austrian, K. Radek, a capable and dishonest young adventurer, formerly expelled from the ranks of Polish and German Social-Democracy for underhand dealing.  Another foreigner playing an important part in Bolshevist diplomacy is an internationalist-Social-Democrat, C. Rakovsky, a Bulgar by origin and a Rumanian subject, sufficiently well-read, but limited almost to dullness.  He was delegated by the Soviet of People’s Commissaries to conclude peace with Rumania.  It is open to doubt whether this Rumanian subject exhibited particular energy in the defence of Russia’s interests.  I met him at Petrograd in the spring of 1917 and asked :  “ As an internationalist adhering to the principles of the Zimmerwald Conference of no annexations and indemnities, you naturally do not seek the annexation of Transylvania to Rumania ? ”

Rakovsky retorted :

“ What !  After all the sacrifices made by Rumania, you wish us to refuse compensation in the shape of Rumanian Transylvania ? ... Not for worlds ! ”

Evidently, like the Swiss, Robert Grimm, this Bulgarian Socialist, who invariably attended all international Socialist Conferences, applied different standards to his own country and to foreign ones, particularly to Russia.  Besides obvious foreigners, Bolshevism recruited many adherents from among émigrés, who had spent many years abroad.  Some of them had never been to Russia before.  They especially numbered a great many Jews.  They spoke Russian badly.  The nation over which they had seized power was a stranger to them, and besides, they behaved as invaders in a conquered country.  Throughout the Revolution generally and Bolshevism in particular the Jews occupied a very influential position.  This phenomenon is both curious and complex.  But the fact remains that such was the case in the primarily elected Soviet (the famous trio—Lieber, Dahn, Gotz), and all the more so in the second one.

In the Tsarist Government the Jews were excluded from all posts.  Schools or Government service were closed to them.  In the Soviet Republic all the committees and commissaries were filled with Jews.  They often changed their Jewish name for a Russian one—Trotsky-Bronstein, Kamenev-Rozenfeld, Zinoviev-Apfelbaum, Steklov-Nakhamkes, and so on.  But such a masquerade deceived no one, while the very pseudonyms of the commissaries only emphasised the international or rather the alien character of Bolshevist rule.  This Jewish predominance among Soviet authorities caused the despair of those Russian Jews who, despite the cruel injustice of the Tsarist régime, looked upon Russia as their motherland, who lived the common life of the Russian intelligentsia and refused in common with them all collaboration with the Bolsheviks.

But of course there were also Russians among the Bolsheviks—workmen, soldiers, peasants.

The originator of Bolshevism, Ulyanov-Lenin, is Russian.  Lunacharsky, Bonch-Bruevich, Mme. Collontai, Chicherin—all these influential Bolshevist leaders are Russian by origin.  But that predominant class which very rapidly crystallised around the Bolsheviks was mainly composed of individuals alien to the Russian people.  This fact is probably useful to them to keep control over the masses, for Bolshevist autocracy is founded upon their absolute contempt of the people whom they rule.  The most terrible trait of Bolshevism is its utter unscrupulousness as to ways and means, and the blunt cruelty of its leaders.  Deceit, forgery, calumny, murder, violence, treachery—all the low, dark, brutal forces which mankind had for centuries endeavoured to get rid of—have become weapons of governing and suppression at their hands.

The intelligentsia turned from them with loathing, but on the other hand criminals small and great, policemen, okhrana officials, spies—all immediately joined their ranks, frequently occupying important posts and defending the new authorities with the utmost zeal.  Any struggle against this compact, rapidly organised band of fanatics, criminals, and traitors became extremely difficult.  Before coming out, they had prepared a military organisation.  Their opponents, the Provisional Government and various political parties, possessed no armed forces, and had no longer any prestige for the masses, bewitched by Bolshevism.

The poor were wearied by the privations of the war and Revolution.  The wonderful speeches of the agitators baffled their understanding.  The promises made their senses reel and augmented the mass psychosis of destruction which accompanies every revolution.  The Bolsheviks gave their savage instincts full scope by being the first to set the example.  But their principal card was that they promised most.  What wonder that they became the masters ?

Having read the decrees of land and peace, peasants and workmen went over with a rush to the Bolsheviks, thus giving them from the outset the support of the masses.

Immediately after the coup d’état, the Izvestia of November 11th published the following official statement signed by the Military Revolutionary Committee :

The late Minister Kerensky, deposed by the people, refuses to submit to the decision of the All-Russian Soviet Congress, and criminally attempts to oppose the Soviet of People’s Commissaries as the lawful Government elected by the All-Russian Congress.”  It further stated that, “acting under the demand of the nobles and landowners, capitalists and speculators, Kerensky is marching against us in order to restore the land to the nobles, and to renew the hated, disastrous war.

As a contrast to the bourgeois Provisional Government “the Government of Workmen and Peasants, in conformity with the firm will of the army and people, has commenced peace negotiations, and given over the land to the peasants.”

Thus did the new power mark its very first statements with falsehood and calumny.  Certainly neither the Social-Revolutionary Kerensky nor the half Socialistic Provisional Government had any intention of taking the land from the peasants or of working for capitalists.  The Bolsheviks knew it, but this falsehood was useful to them “ for tactical considerations,” i.e. as a surer means of capturing the masses, of deepening class-consciousness, of keeping the mob in a state of constant, fierce mistrust towards all other parties, towards the entire Russian intelligentsia.

The position of the Centre Socialists, repudiated by the Bolsheviks, was an exceedingly unhappy one.  The men who had wrested the power from their hands appealed to the people with the very words of land and peace which had been uttered by the Revolutionary Democracy after the March Revolution.  The difference of grades, theories, dates, was absolutely incomprehensible to the masses.  The mob only saw that the leaders of the first Revolution promised, but gave nothing, whereas these men no sooner had deposed Kerensky than they issued two decrees :  about land and peace.  The first decree embodied the realisation not only of the Bolshevist but of the Social-Revolutionary agrarian programme, and in reality only reaffirmed what had already been accomplished by seizure, merely legalising it by the term of nationalisation.  All the land was given over to all the people.  All the inventory, whether live or not, became State property.  No hired labour can be employed on the land.  The agrarian problem must be definitely settled by the Constituent Assembly representing all the people.  But the principles which are to regulate the justice of this decision are exposed beforehand.  First of all, the abolition of private landed property for ever.  However, this Bolshevist decree included a very cautious reserve clause of great demagogic importance, but striking at the very root of the idea of land-nationalisation :  “ The land belonging to peasants and Cossacks is not confiscated.”

The second decree about peace declared that the Government of Workmen and Peasants had addressed a proposal to all belligerent States to conclude an immediate armistice upon all fronts.

The official Government mouthpiece, the Izvestia, accompanied this decree with a commentary in the style of the pacifist articles published in the Izvestia of the first Soviet.  “ An immediate and universal democratic peace can only be achieved by a Peasants’ and Workmen’s Government.  While demanding an armistice upon all fronts, the Government of Workmen and Peasants repudiates the mean insinuation that Russian Social-Democracy aspires to a separate peace.  It does not aspire to sever its ties with the Allies, but it forms a stronghold whose support will give the decisive vote to the true Labour Democracy in Allied countries.”  This recalls the speeches of Tsereteli and Skobelev, who also held the view that a democratic peace would be attained not as a result of the military operations of the Allied armies, but as a gift of the international proletariat.

At a meeting of the Central Executive Committee (20th November) Trotsky gave the following estimate of the attitude of the Powers in regard to the Soviet peace decree :

The Allied Powers have adopted an attitude of the utmost antagonism in relation to our decree.  As to our enemies, they are mainly interested in how far the coup d’état in Russia has weakened her. ... As Germans they in Germany and Austria rejoice, but as bourgeois they fear our victory. ...

Antagonism to the Soviets is displayed above all by England ;  which plays the leading part in contemporary events, which has the least to lose and perhaps the most to gain in this war.

A different estimate is given of America’s attitude :

America entered this war not for the sake of the ideals proclaimed by Wilson, but under the influence of a sober calculation of the Exchange, and at the demand of the representatives of war-industry.  America aspires not to territorial gains but to the exhaustion of all European countries.  That aim is already achieved ;  therefore it may be-expected that America will remain the most tolerant of all towards the Soviet power.

Trotsky summed up his views by declaring that “ all information as to the effect of our decree upon Western Europe tends to demonstrate that our most optimistic expectations are realised.”

A few days after the coup d’état (if I am not mistaken it was the 19th of November), Trotsky announced the creation of a Soviet Government to the French Ambassador, and proposed to the Allies to declare an immediate armistice upon all fronts.  No answer was vouchsafed to this letter, nor to any other attempts of the People’s Commissaries at intercourse with the Allied ambassadors.  The Bolshevist Government, which repudiated imperialistic diplomacy and published the so-called secret treaties, naturally did not pay the slightest attention to the diplomatists’ unfriendly silence.  The Soviet was heading direct towards a separate peace.  The suffering and humiliation inflicted by such a peace upon Russia could not trouble internationalists ;  the Russian State which they had seized was to them but a field of social experiments, as Lenin openly avowed.

General Dukhonin, who had assumed command at the Stavka after Kerensky’s disappearance, received an order signed by Lenin, Trotsky, Krylenko, and Bonch-Bruevich, announcing the establishment of the Soviet rule.  The Stavka was to propose “ the conclusion of an immediate armistice to the Allied as well as to the enemy countries.... The Soviet of People’s Commissaries bids you, Citizen Commander-in-Chief, to present to the military chiefs of the enemy armies the proposal of immediate cessation of hostilities for the purpose of opening peace negotiations.”  (20th November.)

Simultaneously Ensign Krylenko, now Commissary of Military Affairs, that is to say, Minister of War, issued an army order inviting every unit to conclude a separate armistice.

General Dukhonin gave no reply to the order of the Soviet of People’s Commissaries.  Lenin and Krylenko then inquired by telephone whether he had executed their command.  The Commander-in-Chief, in his turn, replied by a series of technical questions :  “ (1) Is there an answer from the belligerent powers ?  (2) What about the Rumanian front ?  (3) Is there any intention of opening negotiations for a separate peace, and if so, with whom ?  (4) What about the Turks ? ”  The People’s Commissaries considered these questions as unimportant, and sent “ an ultimative order to start immediate and unevasive negotiations for an armistice between all belligerent countries, both Allied and such as are in antagonistic relations with us.”

Dukhonin replied :  “ I can but understand that you have no possibility of directly negotiating with the Powers.  Such negotiations in your name are all the more impossible for me.  Only a central government authority, supported by the army and the people, may have sufficient weight with the enemy.  I also hold that Russia’s interest lies in the conclusion of a speedy general peace.”

The conversation ended by a telephonic dismissal of General Dukhonin from the post of Commander-inChief, with the order to carry on his duties pending the arrival to the Stavka of his successor, Ensign Krylenko.  At the same time the Soviet of People’s Commissaries issued a proclamation to the soldiers, which I reproduce in extenso :

Soldiers, Peace is in your hands.  You will not let counter-revolutionary Generals demolish the great task of peace, you will surround them with a guard to avoid a lynching unworthy of a revolutionary army ;  and to prevent these Generals from escaping the judgement which awaits them, you will maintain the strictest revolutionary and military order.  Let those who are in the trenches elect plenipotentiaries for opening immediate formal armistice negotiations.  The Soviet of People’s Commissaries invests you with the right to do so.  Inform us by all means in your power of the progress of such negotiations.  The Soviet of People’s Commissaries is only empowered to sign the final armistice treaty.  Soldiers, the task of peace is in your hands.  Watchfulness, self-restraint, energy, and peace will be won.  (22nd November.)

The above was one of the first State documents composed by the new Commander-in-Chief.  The following series of his numerous orders present the same mixture of demagogy and falsehood, instigation and hypocrisy, and at times, sheer insanity.

Ensign Krylenko, known as Comrade Abram, became notorious at the time of the Revolution of 1906 at election meetings to the first Duma.  He was then a secondary schoolboy, and distinguished himself by his fierce Bolshevist attacks against the Cadets, particularly against Milyukov.  Subsequently he finished a course at Petrograd University, was schoolmaster in Poland, where, it is said, he adhered to the Russification policy.  He was an ensign in the army at the outbreak of the Revolution, and from the spring of 1917 Krylenko made pacifist propaganda in the army committees.  Both his actions and speeches are full of hysterics and demagogic psychosis, but obviously he could not fail to realise the bloody sequel to his orders and speeches.  The extermination of the commanding staff had been planned by him long ago, for had not Ensign Krylenko openly declared in the summer of 1917 at a meeting of the Soviet of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies :  “ We purge the officers’ staff from below.”  This cynical avowal made by an officer of the Russian Army remained unreproved.  Now Krylenko himself had become a member of the Government and could proceed from above with the democratisation of the army, which amounted to the extermination of the officers and the annihilation of the whole army organisation.

His views upon the subject are best judged by a consideration of those whom he included in this process of purging and extermination and others whom he promoted.  At the head of the plenipotentiaries delegated upon the 26th of November to negotiate with the Germans he placed a Hussar lieutenant, Shneur, a swindler, whose services had been rejected even by the Tsarist secret police.  The other two delegates were absolutely unknown individuals, a doctor and a volunteer, both with un-Russian names.

Upon the 28th of November Krylenko, in a special Army Order, announced that the Germans had consented to an armistice, and that the meeting of plenipotentiaries was fixed for the 1st of December.  “ Any one concealing or opposing the propagation of this Order shall be delivered to the judgement of local regimental tribunals without the usual formalities.  (That is to say, it gave the right of murder pure and simple.)  I propose the immediate cessation of sniping, and fraternisation5 upon all fronts.  Every one at his post.  Only the strong can hold his own.  Hurrah for the coming peace ! ”

Thus did the Soviet announce the beginning of separate negotiations, the mere possibility of which they had refuted as a bourgeois calumny.  But day by day the new masters shed one “ superstition ” after another.  And in the first place they fell to trampling and destroying the results of the three years’ heroic military efforts of the Russian people.

In reply to Krylenko’s Armistice Order, there appeared in the press a statement of the doyen of the diplomatic corps, the British Ambassador, Sir George Buchanan.  Trotsky’s letter was received by the Allied diplomatists after the Commander-in-Chief had received the Armistice Order.  The Allies were faced by an accomplished fact.  The Ambassador could not reply to Notes sent by a Government unrecognised by the British Government.  “ Moreover, a Government, which like that of Great Britain holds its authority direct from the people, has no right to decide questions of such vital importance without ascertaining whether its impending decision will obtain the approval of its electors.”

This statement was printed in the Izvestia (30th of November) with the following official comments “ The Soviet of People’s Commissaries addressed its proposal to the German military authorities quite independently of any consent or disagreement on the part of the Allied Governments.  The policy of the Soviet is perfectly plain.  Considering themselves as not bound by any of the former Governments’ formal obligations, the Soviet authorities in their struggle for peace are influenced solely by principles of democracy and the interests of the world’s working class.”

The Izvestia had by this become the mouthpiece of the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trotsky-Bronstein.  Simultaneously he issued a proclamation to the peoples of the belligerent countries.  He pointed out that not only did not the Soviet authorities stand in need of the consent of the “ capitalist ” diplomacy, but that “ generally the Russian Army and the Russian people did not wish to wait any longer.  We start negotiations on the 1st of December.  If the Allied peoples do not send their representatives, we shall begin negotiations by ourselves.  We desire a general peace.  But if the bourgeoisie of the Allied countries compels us to conclude a separate peace, the responsibility will fall entirely upon them.”

The Stavka was the last obstacle upon the Bolsheviks’ way to this shameful and disastrous separate peace.  Not only the Commander-in-Chief, General Dukhonin, but the Commissary and all the Army Committee attached to him, and which during the first Revolution were considered as the main source of the army’s insubordinate state of mind, absolutely refused to recognise Krylenko or to submit to his orders.  “ The All-Army Committee, supported by the resolutions of army and frontal committees, deemed it indispensable by all means to safeguard the Stavka until the creation of a universally acknowledged Government, which the Soviet of People’s Commissaries cannot be recognised as re presenting.  The All-Army Committee certainly cannot recognise you as a Commander-in-Chief, therefore your arrival at the Stavka becomes perfectly unnecessary.  If, however, you wish to come as a private individual, we have nothing against it.” ... Krylenko replied to this naive document, so full of childlike confidence, by dissolving the All-Army Committee.  (Among other things this document guaranteed Krylenko’s personal inviolability in the event of his arrival as a private citizen.)  Only recently he had passionately advocated the sacredness, inviolability, and democratic character of these elected institutions ;  but then he stood in need of them in order to attain power, whereas now, when the committee made a polite attempt to set aside the uncalled-for Commander-in-Chief, his reply was quite simple—dissolution.

A regular offensive was organised against the unsubmissive Stavka, in which, however, Krylenko incurred not the slightest risk.  There was no one to defend the Stavka.  The frenzied soldier masses already sided with the Bolsheviks.  Those of the soldiers who had not yet lost their heads were powerless to counterbalance the general psychosis.  As to the Generals and officers who had remained at their post, they were quickly disposed of.

This was how Ensign Krylenko himself announced his heroic deed to “the soldiers of the Revolutionary Army and Navy”:

Comrades, I have this day entered Mohilev at the head of revolutionary troops.  The Stavka was surrounded from all sides.  The Stavka has surrendered without fighting.  The last obstacle to peace has fallen.  I cannot pass over in silence the unfortunate fact of the lynching of the late Commander-in-Chief, General Dukhonin.  The hatred of the people has boiled over.  Despite all the endeavours to save him, he was dragged out of the railway-car and assassinated.  General Kornilov’s escape on the eve of the fall of the Stavka accounted for this excess.  Comrades !  I cannot tolerate any blemishes upon the banner of the Revolution, and such deeds should be severely condemned.  Be worthy of your newly won liberty.  Cast no blemish upon the people’s power.  The revolutionary people are terrible in war, but should be gentle after victory.  Comrades, with the fall of the Stavka the struggle for peace acquires fresh power.  (1st December.)

Thus did the Bolshevik Commissary describe the tragic end of a Russian General, whose sole guilt was his loyalty to Russia and the Allies unto the end.

And here is a description of the same event given by an eye-witness, the military correspondent of one of the most widespread Russian papers, Russkoe Slovo.6

General Dukhonin expected to be arrested, possibly judged, but as an officer and gallant man believed in his antagonist’s nobility, and fell a victim to his trust.  He did not wish to abandon the Stavka, deeming it his duty to remain at his post to the end.  He organised no armed resistance whatever to the Bolsheviks ;  on the contrary, took all precautions to avoid bloodshed, and withdrew from the Stavka the shock-battalion, the only unit willing to defend this last stronghold of the Russian General Staff by force of arms.

Everything had been done to pacify the conqueror.  But the conqueror marched forward, wrathful and impetuous.  No political opponents, but avengers armed to the teeth, with artillery and armoured cars, were on their way to defenceless Mohilev.

Krylenko arrived accompanied by sailors and Red Guards.  The soldiers eyed their new chief curiously ;  he was so small, so wiry, so unlike their former commanders.

Krylenko drove from the station to Headquarters, and during his absence Dukhonin was brought to the station in a motor-car.

The General looked pale and agitated, but his handsome, well-groomed head was held erect as of old.  The sailors took him straight into Krylenko’s railway-car.  The crowd of soldiers, not yet a large one, became excited.

“ Hand him over to us ! ” shouted several voices.

The shouts came mainly from the Red Guards.  One of them, wearing a wolf-skin cap with the fur bristling out, climbed on the carriage-step and addressed the crowd :

“ Comrades.  Where is Kerensky ?  Where is Kornilov ?  They have not been properly guarded, the same will happen to Dukhonin.  Dukhonin will also escape.  They say he must be judged ?  What judgement ?  Who was judged ?  According to their judgement all traitors are found not guilty.”

“ We’ll have Dukhonin ! ” roared the mob.  “We know how to guard him.”

It was as if an electric current had run through the crowd.  I gazed into their faces and did not recognise them.  A moment ago I had seen calm, good-natured, dull faces, chewing sun-flower seeds and staring with nothing but curiosity in their eyes.  Now the faces were darkened and distorted.  The men looked like hungry wolves.

The mob pressed against the door, thrust itself inside the car.  They shouted, “ Death to Dukhonin.  Kill him.”

Krylenko, who had himself incited the soldiers to lynch-law, who encouraged the Red Guards’ wolfish ferocity, endeavoured to prevent the crime by speech.  But by speech only.

Dukhonin could have been saved.  Ensign Krylenko had a numerous suit.  Not all the sailors were inclined to the lynching.  Dukhonin might have been locked up in the car and the train started.  But apparently Krylenko counted the cost.  Passions were excited to such a pitch that any intervention on his part might mean death to him also.  He only clutched at his head and sat for a long time with his face buried in his hands.

The Red Guards dragged Dukhonin out of the car.  He raised his hand, signifying his wish to speak.  But just then a sailor sprang upon the step and fired at his throat.

The mob raised the war-cry of victory, “ Hurrah-ah ! ”  Bayonets, swords, rifle-butts, heels—all were set to work.  The savage, frenzied mob tore the General’s corpse to pieces, never ceasing its cry of hurrah ! hurrah ! hurrah !  With this sacred war-cry upon their lips our heroes died for their motherland, while here savages were performing a bestial execution and uttering the same words in blasphemy, forgetting that they were victorious not over the Germans, but over an unarmed and defenceless Russian man.

Having committed their hideous task, the mob ebbed away.  In place of General Dukhonin I saw only a blackened bloody mass.

That was not merely the murder of General Dukhonin.  With him a final blow was struck at discipline, wounded from the outset of the Revolution, and at the whole Russian Army.  From that moment Russia, dishonoured and bound hand and foot, was laid as a booty at Germany’s feet.  Conditions of surrender, the duration and forms of negotiations—all these were but secondary details.  The substance of the situation lay in the fact, that owing to the combined efforts of a faction of Russian Marxists calling themselves Bolsheviks, and their Allies—the Germans—Russia was conquered from the interior and brought out of the ranks of the belligerent Powers.

The subsequent history of the peace negotiations, which lasted from the first peace decree published upon the 14th November to the signing of the Brest-Litovsk peace upon the 3rd of March, is an obscure and disgusting tale of how a gang of men, unauthorised by the country, and the majority of whom were until then unknown to Russia even by name, negotiated with the Imperial German Government.  They camouflaged their treason with pompous Socialistic mottoes, they diverted the mob by sharpening its lowest instincts of greed and hatred, meanwhile hastily disbanding the army in order that no one could prevent them from selling Russia.

Not all the details of the negotiations appeared in the press :  far from it.  Having repudiated the Tsarist secret diplomacy, the Bolsheviks promptly restored it for their own use.  Neither the exact principles of the armistice, nor the full text of the treaty were communicated to the Russian people.  It was rather a matter of conjecture than of knowledge.7

For three years the Russian people bore the burden of terrible military tension, and sacrificed several million lives for the Allied cause.  Now everything was blotted out.  Maddened and helpless, it had surrendered to the mercy of its foe.  One could not even call him a victorious enemy.  In a military sense Russia was not defeated.  Towards the spring of 1917 the Russian Army, enriched by the war experience of its leaders, was numerically as well as technically far superior to the one with which Russia entered the war in 1914.  But the new wine of liberty had intoxicated the Russian soldier and made him unfit for fighting.  Socialist speeches has killed his martial spirit, and the Bolsheviks had only to complete the work begun by the preachers of a democratic peace, and to liquidate the remnants of the army.

That was a terrible sight.  Most terrible of all to thinking Russians was the blindness of the people.  It trampled its own innumerable war sacrifices down in the mud.  Accepting traitors as the true peace-makers, it raised them upon a shield and executed patriots who resented the shame and madness of the peace negotiations.  The Bolshevist formula—peace at any price—was taken up by the masses and became their criterion for exalting or degrading various parties and organisations.  Officers paid the heaviest penalty.  Every soldier, every workman suspected them of opposition to the peaceful aspirations of the Bolsheviks and of secret sympathies for Kornilov.  Soldiers’ Committees subjected officers to humiliating cross-questioning, and ordered them to sign declarations of loyalty to the Soviet of People’s Commissaries.  In the event of refusal the officers were subjected to derision and blows, and frequently shot.

Towards the middle of December the Bolsheviks published the Order that the officers’ staff should be an elected one.  Soldiers’ Committees were to proceed with the elections.  Officers, who were not elected, were to remain in the same units as privates.  All ranks and titles as well as decorations were abolished.  This Order started a veritable orgy of derision.  Generals were converted into cooks or grooms, their orderlies and junior clerks became commanders of divisions, almost of armies.  In one division a woman commander was elected.  Generals who had been unable to escape from the Stavka were compelled to execute the orders of drunken soldiers elected to high posts in their stead.

The army was transformed into a brigand’s camp.  The soldiers divided and sold horses, waggons, clothes, bread, food, and, lastly, guns and machine-guns.  The purchasers were frequently Germans.  Some of the machine-guns and rifles were carried off by the soldiers to their homes.

In the face of such conditions the Central Powers could obviously dictate any terms of peace.  Yet they did not immediately lose the habit of reckoning with the Russian Army or of considering Russia as a dangerous and powerful opponent, and therefore they acted with a certain cautiousness.

The negotiations lasted for nearly three months.  Perhaps the German Diplomats and Generals experienced some perplexity as to whom they were to conclude a peace with ?  What weight can there be in the signature of these absolutely unknown individuals ?  Can they deliver aught but forged letters of exchange ?  Might not greater advantage be expected from a downright conquest of Russia ?

All that took place during the peace negotiations was so absolutely out of conformity with the dignity of Russia, whom every foreigner, enemy, or friend alike had treated with the respect due to a great Power, that even a member of the first delegation, the Internationalist S. Mstislavsky, a Social-Revolutionary of the Left, was oppressed by what he witnessed at Brest-Litovsk.

An enterprising journalist, earning a fair amount of money during the war by writing military correspondence simultaneously in the Government Messenger and in semi-defeatist Left papers, and a man of very bad reputation, Mstislavsky was included through the insistence of the Social Revolutionaries of the Left, with whom he identified himself in the first peace delegation which started for Brest upon the 18th November.  He gave an account of his impressions in a curious pamphlet entitled The Brest Negotiations.8

According to him the delegation was assembled in haste (literally “ on the go ”).  The only members thoroughly versed in the state of affairs were the three Bolshevist representatives who had received definite instructions from the Soviet of People’s Commissaries.  The remaining six members of the political section as well as the officers attached to the delegation had not even a precise knowledge as to the limit of the delegation’s powers.

The above statement was all the more interesting, as all the nine plenipotentiaries, besides the officers included as advisers, were enumerated in the official agenda as members of the All-Russian Executive Committee of the Soviet of Peasants’, Workmen’s, and Soldiers’ Deputies.  Obviously, even this exalted rank did not admit its members to the mysteries of secret diplomacy which the Bolsheviks would not reveal to their comrades of the Executive Committee, even when sending them to diplomatic negotiations with the Germans.

The final aim of these negotiations is thus defined by Mstislavsky :

“ An insistent repetition of the program demands of the Russian Revolutionary Democracy was expected to appeal to the peoples over the heads of German Generals.  And not only to the peoples of Germany, Austria, and Bulgaria, but also to our own.”

The author did not explain why the representatives of an Executive Committee sitting at Petrograd should find it necessary to appeal to the Russian people from Brest, and with the assistance of Germans, when they possessed an enormous mechanism of propaganda in Russia.

But he gives a detailed and picturesque account of a festive dinner, and of the contrast between the German delegates with their military mien and pose of men of the world, and the Russian delegation.  The latter’s composition transgressed all diplomatic traditions, as it comprised a soldier, a sailor, a peasant, a workman, and even one woman (Bitzenko, a Social-Revolutionary of the Left).

“ In allotting the places at the dinner-table, the Germans acted in strict accordance with the revolutionary table of ranks and classes.  The delegation was seated according to revolutionary rank in direct violation of ordinary precedence.  The sailor Olich, as member of the political delegation, was placed above Admiral Altfater, etc.”

This was at dinner.  During the negotiations, however, the Germans and Austrians paid scant respect to the political members, and clearly emphasised their contempt of “ revolutionary rite.”  Mstislavsky consoled himself by the thought that after all he and his comrades were fulfilling their duty as Internationalists, because “ the plenipotentiaries of Revolutionary Russia were obliged to warn unequivocally and in terms of absolute certainty, that a military armistice for the Russian Revolution represented an act of revolutionary offensive, an act not liquidating, but enhancing, the struggle.”  In other words, he persuaded his readers that they went to Brest to sign an armistice with the Kaiser’s Generals solely in the interests of a world-wide revolution.  Certainly, under such conditions, and inspired by such aims, the plenipotentiary representatives of the Soviet were least of all concerned with the main, i.e. the military, problems of the armistice.

“ No military deliberations concerning the possible terms of the armistice took place before leaving Petersburg.  The main body of the military delegation joined us at Pskov and Dvinsk.  The sum total of our military demands has not been formulated.  There exists not the slightest possibility of commencing the immediate task entrusted to the delegation.”

The attitude adopted by the opposite side towards a delegation of such a standard of competence may be easily imagined.  “ Despite all the esteem and attention of which the delegation was the object throughout its stay at Brest, every contact with the Germans left me with a feeling of profound, withering humiliation. ... The enemy officers, beginning with General Hoffmann, held the Russian Army in profound respect. ... As soon, however, as matters touched upon the Revolution there appeared deceit, intimately concealed under a mask of respectful courtesy, but all the more unbearable and oppressing—it was palpable in the words and in the eyes of the Germans.  And the consciousness of this deceit, the consciousness of our powerlessness to overcome it by our truth, was degrading.”

The result of these negotiations, whose humiliation was felt even by a delegation of such calibre, was the signing of the first Brest-Litovsk Treaty.  While appending his signature to this base document, Mstislavsky consoled himself with the hope of a future International Socialist Conference.  “ Inasmuch as we acted in the name of the Russian Army at the first Brest Conference, so shall we at the second (International Socialist), upon the border of peace negotiations, speak only in the name of the Internationale.”

Such was Russia’s humiliating position during these negotiations that General Skalon, a member of the second delegation, left the room and shot himself after the very first meeting.

Yet with their customary impudence the People’s Commissaries declared, both in their speeches and in the press, that they were working for a universal democratic peace.  That the peace was a separate one was the fault not of the Soviet, but of the Allies.

“ The responsibility for the separate armistice rests entirely upon those Governments, which have not up to now declared their desire for peace, which still continue to conceal their war-aims from their own and foreign peoples,” wrote the Commissary for Foreign Affairs, Trotsky, upon the 13th December.  Five days later the conclusion of a twenty-eight days’ armistice, until the 18th January, was announced.

Separate negotiations became a fact.  The Bolsheviks stood in need of them, because they were in haste to replace the external war by an internal civil one.

The cessation of bloodshed upon the external front signifies the end of the hecatombs raised to the glory of international imperialism.  Such is not the case upon the inner front.  Here the revolutionary troops are fighting against their direct class enemies, against the landowners and capitalists, who have assembled under their banner all counter-revolutionary elements—officers dismissed from their posts, Cadets, storm-troops, the upper Cossack class.  Victory in this war for life or death between the new and the old Russia is a question of self preservation for the Socialist Revolution in Russia.  (Izvestia, 24th December 1917.)

This article appeared, as if premeditated, on Christmas Eve, upon the day when, year after year, according to tradition, Russian journalists wrote articles upon the subject—peace on earth, good-will to men.

It demonstrated with sufficient clearness that it was not pacifist ideals which inspired the People’s Commissaries to conclude a precipitate peace with Germany, but their desire to have their hands free for another war—the war against the Russian people.

The Bolsheviks evinced not a trace of that abhorrence from violence which characterised both the successive Provisional Governments and their supporters, whether Radical or Socialist.  The Bolsheviks violated both body and soul.

Liberty, respect for personality, the press, the right of vote—in a word, everything considered to be the indispensable characteristic of a free legal State, was smashed by the Bolsheviks with the furious rapture of conquerors, with the conviction that their Koran alone contained the absolute truth.

Their doctrine excluded parliamentarism.  It was to be replaced by the Soviets.  Of whom these Soviets were composed, how the members were chosen, how and by whom the Soviet decrees were executed, it would be both easy and difficult to relate.  Chaotic elections to the Soviet at the approximate calculation of one delegate to 1000 workmen, took place at the time of the March Revolution.  However, both the procedure and the character of the elections held much of the accidental and arbitrary, and the Soviets of the Revolution’s early period should be regarded as irregular institutions.

At the time of the November Revolution the second All-Russian Congress of Soviets held its meetings.  The Provisional Government of Workmen and Peasants, also calling itself the Soviet of People’s Commissaries, was created in its name.  The control of their actions belongs to the Congress of Soviets and its Central Executive Committee.  Therefore some decrees of the Soviet authorities emanated direct from the Central Executive Committee, and whenever the Bolshevist leaders intended to pass any particularly hazardous measures they always previously passed them through the Central Executive Committee, which was their submissive and obedient tool.  In extraordinary circumstances, such as the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly or the Brest peace, the Bolsheviks called together a Congress of Soviets, which for them became means of propaganda and government.  Later, already in the summer of 1918 a similar Congress of Soviets (the fifth) adopted the Soviet Constitution, wherein were clearly stated its theoretical principles.

The fundamental task of the Constitution of the All-Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, established for the present transitionary period, comprises the establishment, in the form of a powerful Soviet authority, of a dictatorship of the proletariat both urban and rural, inclusive of the village poor, for the purpose of a final suppression of the bourgeoisie, of an annihilation of exploitation of man by man, and the introduction of Socialism under which there are no class distinctions and the State has no power.  The class spirit of the Soviet power permeates every point of this constitution.  All power belongs fully and exclusively to the labouring masses and to their authorised representatives, delegated to the Soviet of Workmen’s, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies.

Only those engaged in manual labour are included under the description of labouring masses.  Intellectual work gives no rights whatever.

Commercial people, the clergy, the intelligentsia were deprived of their right to vote in the same manner as formerly bad election laws deprived workmen and peasants of a representation.  It was the same injustice, only turned upside down, and fraught with a still greater disadvantage to the State, because the Soviet system spurned the most educated, the most thoughtful members of the population who were most adapted to State work.

But this was the scheme.  In reality it is not the class which rules, but a party.  Central authority is in the hands of a small band of intelligents, while the local Soviets are purely party organisations.  By means of selection, terrorism, pressure upon elections, and simple extermination of their enemies, the Bolsheviks have ousted all dissenters from the Soviets.  When naive workmen attempt to elect others than Bolsheviks to this or the other local Soviet, such an inconvenient organisation is simply dispersed by the Red Guards.  This dictatorship of the proletariat has resulted, by the way, in the fact that the working-class, never numerous in Russia, has almost ceased to exist, as the factories are either at a standstill or closed.  In place of tens of thousands of workmen there now remain only hundreds.  They receive high wages, work little, and represent a new variety of the innumerable Soviet officials.

The democratic principle of universal suffrage is violated not merely by the fact that only a certain section of the community is admitted to participate in the elections, but also by the elections themselves being not direct but in a series of delegated selections.  From the village Soviet up to the regional, the elections rise in four degrees, with the final result, that the Russian peasants are represented by emigrés ill-acquainted with the Russian language, and still less so with the needs of the Russian people.

Other violations of liberty, such as the authorised flood of one type of propaganda and the suppression of free criticism, the public control in all enterprise need not be specified.  Meantime, the Soviet competence is limitless, and they represent the supreme power.  Former laws are abolished.  The new decrees create a veritable chaos in the domain of personal and possessive right, a state of things particularly convenient to the obscure elements affiliated to the Soviets from the outset.  To enhance the general iniquity, a mysterious “ Extraordinary Commission for fighting Counter-Revolution, Profiteering, and Sabotage ” is working parallel to the Soviet.  The foundation of these inquisitorial camarillas was already laid in September, when the Revolutionary Democracy, scared by the Kornilov affair, organised its extraordinary investigation commission.  During the Bolshevist regime these “ chresvychaikas ” (“ extraordinaries ”) became independent institutions from whence originated the warfare against the population, executions, arrests, perquisitions, plunder, etc.  At times the Soviet of People’s Commissaries uses the “ chresvychaika ” as a convenient instrument for the extermination of its enemies, at others they are in a state of conflict with each other.

Neither the officially published Soviet Constitution nor any of the judicial decrees make any mention of the “ Extraordinary Commissions for fighting Counter Revolution.”  It goes without saying that their activity can neither be criticised nor made public.  Their staff is not always known.  These tribunals of the Middle Ages, the originators of the most arbitrary repressions, form in company with the Chinese and the Letts one of the main supports of the Soviet power.

Possibly the Soviet Republic reflected itself in Lenin’s dry, schematic brain as the harmonious edifice of a communistic paradise.  In reality, it merely represents a series of self-centred organisations, taking no account either of one another, or of the Soviet of People’s Commissaries, and least of all of the will and interests of the community.

According to the number of Soviet members in Russia, so is the number of autocrats possessing the power to dispose of the property, the labour, the life, and honour of every citizen and every citizeness.  For performing such autocratic work these committeemen receive good wages, the privilege of driving about in motor-cars, of seizing as large supplies of food as they desire, and of plundering, if so inclined.  As neither free press nor court of justice any longer exist, their activities are of course uncontrolled.  It happens, however, that they are sometimes obliged to pay a heavy penalty for superfluous rapacity, and glut of possession, for the Communist Commissaries endeavour to exterminate property as an institution.  As a matter of fact, profiteering is sentenced more heavily than murder by the Bolshevist Commissaries.

But before establishing the Soviet regime all the political institutions created both by the old and the new regime had to be destroyed.  The first few months of Bolshevist rule were dedicated to this process, which was conducted with an energy verging upon genius.




1 The Social-Revolutionaries also possessed considerable funds.  They also spent large sums on agitation and the sending out propagandists to the villages.  After the Bolshevist coup d’état, the Znamia Truda, a Left Social-Revolutionary paper, declared in December 1917 that 2,000,000 roubles had been advanced to the Soc. Rev. party by the Americans through a certain Mr. Robins, delegated to Russia upon some diplomatic mission.  This was not refuted.  If that were true, then it follows that both the rival Socialist parties, the S.R. and the Bolsheviks, were working upon foreign money.

2 Not in vain did the ideologist of German Imperialism, Rohrbach, frankly say, “ Russia for the Bolsheviks, and Bolsheviks for us.”  Only neither he nor the Kaiser had calculated that Germany might also become infected with the rebellious spirit of revolution.

3 In his novel The Possessed, Dostoievsky had portrayed Nechaev under the name of Verkhovensky, although he rather emphasised the caricature traits instead of the tragic ones.

4 This accidental use of a criminal by-word seems rather characteristic.  Not content with the keys, Trotsky is already advising the use of the robber’s tool—the picklock.

5 Here the paper Pravda added the comment :  “ Doubtless this only refers to unorganised attempts at fraternisation.”

6 Russkoe Slovo, 8th December.  Article by Alexander Rossov.

7 In October 1918, near Moscow, the Soviet arrested Mrs. Rennet, a British subject, and accused her of stealing the secret clauses of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty.  She was subsequently released and returned to England, where she gave me an account of her experience.

8 Published at Petrograd in February 1918.