File No. 861.00/1403

The British Embassy to the Department of State

No. 71


As the United States Government are aware, the Bolsheviki government have appointed a representative in London with whom the [Page 723] British Government are unofficially in communication. The Bolsheviki authorities in Russia have thus the opportunity of sending sealed mail bags to London, and have used these bags for the transmission of the party’s literature, which thus escapes censorship. Some of the British papers have already published very violent speeches from Russian sources, and, if no means of checking the importation of this literature through the Bolsheviki representative is adopted, there seems little doubt that an active antiwar and revolutionary propaganda will be started in all parts of the country through the efforts of the Russian agents.

The ordinary way of dealing with the problem would be by notifying the Bolsheviki representative that if he continues practices directly contrary to diplomatic usage he will be requested to leave Great Britain. The British Government consider it certain however that, if such a course were decided upon, the Bolsheviki authorities in Petrograd would retaliate, and probably insist that all persons connected with the British Government, including the Embassy, should leave Russia. The results of such a measure, both to individual British subjects in Russia and to the relations between the two countries, would of course be most harmful.

The situation is thus one of some difficulty, especially as it seems most probable that the course adopted in Great Britain will be extended, as and when opportunity arises, to Italy, France, Japan and the United States. The same problem may consequently be expected to arise in these countries, and the British Government are most anxious to learn as soon as possible what action the United States would propose to adopt towards this propaganda on the part of Bolsheviki representatives, should the case arise in this country. It is no doubt desirable that similar action in dealing with this question should be taken, if necessary, by all the Governments concerned, and enquiries as to their views on the subject are being made also of the French, Italian and Japanese Governments.