File No. 861.00/2880

The British Chargé ( Barclay ) to the Secretary of State

No. 986

Memorandum

His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires presents his compliments to the Secretary of State and has the honour to inform him, by instruction of his Government, that Mr. Balfour has sent the following telegram to Mr. Chicherin:

We have received news that an outrageous attack has been made on the British Embassy at Petrograd, that its contents have been sacked and destroyed, that Captain Cromie, who tried to defend it, was murdered and his body barbarously mutilated. We demand immediate reparation and the prompt punishment of any one responsible for or concerned in this abominable outrage. Should the Russian Soviet government fail to give complete satisfaction or should any further acts of violence be committed against a British subject His Majesty’s Government will hold the members of the Soviet government individually responsible and will make every endeavour to secure that they shall be treated as outlaws by the governments of all civilized nations and that no place of refuge shall be left to them. You have already been informed through M. Litvinov that His Majesty’s Government was prepared to do everything possible to secure the immediate return of official representatives of Great Britain and of the Russian Soviet government to their respective countries. A guarantee was given by His Majesty’s Government that as soon as British officials were allowed to pass the Russo-Finnish frontier, M. Litvinov and all the members of his staff should have permission to proceed immediately to Russia. We have now learned that a decree was published on August [Page 666] 29, ordering the arrest of all British and French subjects between the ages of 18 and 40, and that British officials have been arrested on trumped-up charges of conspiring against the Soviet government. His Majesty’s Government has therefore found it necessary to place M. Litvinov and the members of his staff under preventive arrest until such time as all British representatives are set at liberty and allowed to proceed to the Finnish frontier free from molestation.

His Majesty’s Government have at the same time addressed the following telegram to His Majesty’s representatives at Stockholm, Christiania, Copenhagen, Berne, and The Hague:

His Majesty’s Government trust that they may count upon the Government to which you are accredited to express to the Bolshevist authorities in strong terms their reprobation of this disgraceful outrage and to use their best endeavours to secure the personal safety of other British subjects.

I am consulting the Allied Governments as to the advisability of asking neutral governments to proclaim the perpetrators of such deeds as outlaws from civilization. I request your views as to whether such a request would have any prospect of success.

His Majesty’s Government fear that they have really little hold at present over the Bolshevist government but they feel that they must do all they can to show that they are in earnest.

The only further course that occurs to His Majesty’s Government is to get the neutral countries to express their reprobation of such acts as the murder of Captain Cromie. The Bolshevists probably feel that Russia will not much longer be safe for them and if they realize that, there is no neutral country where they can take refuge they might hesitate to commit further crime.

As already mentioned above, His Majesty’s Government have-asked their representatives in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland and Switzerland for their views as to the prospect of success for such a request and His Majesty’s Government in the meanwhile would be glad to have the opinion of the United States Government on this matter.