File No. 861.00/2070

The Consul at Moscow ( Poole) to the Secretary of State


616. Recognizing the critical character of the present food shortage Lenin is desperately urging his supporters to hold out through the next two months for the procuring of a more certain tenure of power as soon as the crops are in. Speaking this week at an extraordinary third session of the Central Executive Committee, called especially to discuss food question, he launched a movement for sending units of workingmen into the villages to seize grain. He says there is plenty of food in the country but it is hoarded by the rich villagers. This is an exaggeration for political purposes. The rich villager hardly exists in reality. A great many peasants have some grain and a few have none at all. The attempt to distinguish rich and poor, identifying the former with the small bourgeois, is intended to conceal fact which the food crisis is making daily more apparent, namely that the interests of the workingmen and the peasants are opposed. The so-called government of workingmen and peasants now finds itself under the difficult necessity of appeasing hungry workingmen on the one side and on the other side of alienating what support remains to them among the peasants by an attempted forcible seizure of grain. The situation is aggravated by the conflict with the commissariat [Czecho-Slovaks?] which has isolated central Russia from the grain stores of western Siberia and the Ufa and adjacent governments, and has stopped through navigation on the [Volga?]. In these circumstances the Bolshevik government could hardly be expected to survive, were it not that the disorganization of the country has so far assumed the proportions [Page 555] of a terrible catastrophe that no other party cares to attempt the management of affairs without direct foreign assistance. The question of the immediate future there[fore] is, will Germany act before the Allies do, and in what manner.

There is rumor of a divergence between the views of Mirbach and his Government. While Berlin must offer at least certain evil [civility] they are said to favor the reestablishment of Russia under monarchy. [Germany’s] policy, is said [to aim] at the creation of several remissions [separate governments, but] do not oppose [federation] on the model [omission?] of the further promises [omission]. The external evidence suggests that the latter plan is being followed for the present. There are indications that White Russia is about to be made into a separate government. From Simferopol the definite formation of Crimean government is reported. Recent developments reported in 5931 and other telegrams, though not clear in detail, maintain a similar policy in the Trans-Caucasus. In the Northern Caucasus the revival of the Southeastern federation with their support gives the Germans the pretext most people desire, to extend their control [not only] over the Kuban, Terek and [omission] districts but also into the southern Urals through cooperation with the Orenburg and Ufa Cossacks who [omission] against the socially [omission] they have assumed deliberately on their lands [omission] are not deeply conscious of national issues and may therefore be ready to accept direct or indirect German aid.

In Moscow the German column [control] becomes stronger and stronger. Specific evidence accumulates daily to show that, the Allies having failed to act, liberal and conservative elements alike are finally prepared to accept German support. Germany has apparently not yet decided to assume control in central Russia, but this decision and its immediate execution may come at any moment.

Failing immediate German action, one of the lesser possibilities of the situation is the overthrow of the Soviets by purely mob action springing from insufferable hunger. Also the Czech conflict, which is momentarily becoming more serious, may develop in ways not now to be foreseen.

  1. Dated June 2, vol. ii, chap. iii.