File No. 861.00/2789

The Consul at Moscow ( Poole ) to the Secretary of State 1


7. Most violent elements of Bolsheviki in control here. Drawing assurance from immunity granted Petrograd by Germany in Article 5 of supplementary treaty,2 they are now carrying out a cold-blooded terror which has thrown a palpable stillness over the whole life of the [Page 687] city. Arrests [made?] en masse and unknown numbers are shot daily at Kronstadt alone. Unknown number, reported 1,700, mostly former officers, are held as hostages for lives of commissars, though no commissars killed since Uritski. Recent storm washed many bodies of officers ashore on adjacent mainland where they were eaten by dogs, Bolsheviki refusing burial. Population utterly cowed and no prospect of change.

On pretense that proof has been found in … of plot leading to Uritski’s death, forty-six Englishmen were imprisoned fortnight ago in Peter and Paul on order from Moscow. Twenty odd French also there. Learn from one or two who have been released through money or influence that prison conditions for Allied citizens and Russians alike could not be worse. Fifteen to twenty in one small very damp cell, so crowded that only two or three can lie down at once. No air, no exercise, no bedding, practically no food. Forty-four Czecho-Slovaks captured recently endeavoring to make way north to join Allied armies just now discovered in out-of-the-way prison starving to death. Fifteen removed to hospital dying. Twenty-nine continue in prison in serious condition.

Within past week relief work organized in the name of International Red Cross chiefly on initiative American Red Cross. Pillows, bedding and private parcels reaching prisoners and food three or four times week.

Difficulties of the situation increased by Petrograd “commune” respecting orders from central authorities Moscow only when convenient. Great decentralization even within city, local or ward Soviets frequently acting independently in matters of general import. No deaths or executions among French or British as yet.

  1. Sent via the Consulate General at Christiania.
  2. See ante, p. 600.