File No. 861.00/1724
The Consul at Petrograd ( Winship) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 2.]
Sir: I have the honor to report that the All-Russian Convention of Delegates from Councils of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies has adopted a resolution on the war corresponding in all details to the mood and program outlined by Mr. Dan in the speech mentioned in despatch No. 335 of June 26, 1917,1 given there in enclosure No. 2.
This resolution is obligatory on the present Temporary Government, as the bourgeois ministers must either carry out the desires of the soldiers and workmen (as Mr. Tereshchenko is already doing) or else resign and thus replace the present masked dictatorship of the proletariat by an open dictatorship of the proletariat. The resolution [Page 100] is a clear and emphatic statement of the present intentions of the all-powerful soldiers and workmen, gathered in a convention which is now the national parliament or congress of Russia. First of all, it adopts the fundamental attitude of the pro-German Zimmerwald conference in refusing to pay any heed to where the guilt for the origin of the war lies. (Paragraph 1: “The present war broke out on account of the imperialistic tendencies of all countries. …”) Secondly, it is not a statement as to how the war should be continued but entirely a statement as to how the war should be ended. (Paragraph 2: Entire [paragraph], and especially the words:” It [the war] distracts the country’s attention from the labor of fortifying the liberties newly won.” Also paragraph 3: … “The struggle for the quickest possible conclusion of the war is the most important current task of the revolutionary democracy.”) Thirdly, it gives up all idea of ending the war by defeating the Central powers. (Paragraph 4: “For the war to end by the crushing of one of the two groups of belligerents would cause new future wars and would even further deepen the differences between peoples and bring them to complete exhaustion, hunger and ruin.” And paragraph 6: … “The war can only be ended by the united efforts of the democracies of all countries. …”) Fourthly, it means that it is the intention of the Russian soldiers and workmen to end the war, if they can, by arousing the workmen and soldiers of the Allied countries against their present governments so that the English, French, Italian and American Governments will be forced by the workmen’s and soldiers’ organizations to adopt the Russian plans, in the belief that when this is done the German and Austrian workmen and soldiers will act accordingly. (Paragraph 6: “An appeal to the democracies of all nations urging them to accept the slogan ‘peace without annexations or contributions on the basis of each nation’s right to determine its own future’ and to put pressure to bear on their respective governments along this line.”) The encouragement of the revolt against the majority government in England, France, Italy and America is held to be necessary because the recent notes from the first three countries, in answer to the Russian note, and President Wilson’s message to the Russian people, are considered unsatisfactory, imperialistic. (Paragraph 6: “The latest announcements of their respective governments put the Russian revolution in an extremely difficult position.”)
The situation created by this resolution is, therefore, that while the Temporary Government, at the bidding of the workmen and soldiers, puts what pressure it can on the Allied Governments, the convention itself undertakes to influence those governments from below (paragraphs 9 and 10) through the respective populaces, and [Page 101] calls on the official Russian Government to assist in this work to the extent of assuring the free passage of socialist delegations between Russia and the other Allied countries.
Thus the encouragement of revolt and revolution in Allied countries is a plank in the platform of the convention.
Mr. Dan remarked that the capitalistic governments are only open to arguments when force may be brought to bear and that therefore the efficiency of the Russian Army must be maintained in order to impress France, England, Italy and America. This was not, however, included in the resolution.
That the convention believes its policy will be successful, and that it can bring about general peace regardless of the English, French, Italian, Japanese and American Governments, is shown by paragraph 6, section 2, stating that the international socialist conference which is to be called by the “revolutionary democracy of Russia” will outline “final peace terms, and ways and means of realizing these final peace terms.”
The final paragraph, paragraph 12, which reads, “In particular the convention deems that the question as to whether an aggressive forward movement of the army should be decided purely on strategical grounds,” is really a declaration that the status quo on the front should remain the same as at present unless the Germans attack. Any unprovoked forward movement of the army against the Germans would be deemed a political imperialistic move until the Allies have been brought into full accord with Russian workmen and soldiers. This confirms the truce at the front for an indefinite time, unless a reaction or counter movement takes a firm hold.
The resolution on the war adopted at the Cossack Convention is a very different document. Its first words are: “The first Cossack Convention holds that an immediate and decisive aggressive forward movement of the army is the only way to attain the peace which is so needed for national constructive labor.” It then continues: “The war must be carried on to such a victory as will assure a full mutual agreement with the Allies, and make it possible to conclude peace based on the full right of each nation to determine its own future, without violent annexations, and without punitive contributions.” This is the war-peace program of the middle classes of Russia to-day. As has been noticed, the workmen and soldiers have no war program, only a peace program.
The resolution on the war proposed to the All-Russian Convention by the Maximalists (socialist-pacifists), the party of Lenin, the party with which Robert Grimm worked most intimately during his stay in Russia, differs mainly in violence of language rather than in [Page 102] principle from the resolution adopted by the All-Russian Convention. The first paragraph of the Maximalists’ resolution reads:
The official announcements of the English and French Governments published May 23, in answer to the notes of the Temporary Government, the annexation of Albania by Italy and the violence done to Greece by the Anglo-French capitalists, show again and again that the bourgeois classes of the “Allied countries” do not want to adopt the slogan “peace without annexation or contribution “on the basis of each nation’s right to determine its own future.
The second paragraph of the Maximalists’ resolution declares that the—
policy of the coalition Temporary Government, promising to lead the country to peace by means of diplomatic negotiations with the imperialistic Governments of France and England in order to influence these Governments to surrender their annexationist program, has undergone a complete fiasco.
Mr. Dan practically said this himself in reporting the resolution adopted. The resolution repeats this in a milder way in demanding wide thoroughgoing changes in the personnel of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Diplomatic Corps, and in demanding more energetic direct action on the part of the convention itself.
The contrast between the Cossack resolution and those of the All-Russian Convention and the Maximalists is clear. The Ail-Russian Convention and the Maximalists want no aggressive forward movement now, as it would be sacrificing Russian blood to further the selfish aims of the Allies. An aggressive forward movement may not be possible until the Allies are forced to change their war aims by the socialist-pacifist minorities in their respective countries. This of course with the provision that the Central Empires do not, in the meantime, also change their war aims, in which case there should be an immediate peace conference.
The Maximalists, of course, differ from the majority of Minimalists and Socialist Revolutionists in the All-Russian Convention, in that they demand that the ten bourgeois ministers still in the coalition Government resign, whereas the majority in the convention demand only that the Government take more energetic measures. If the ten bourgeois ministers do not resign it can only be because they are now reconciled to the policy of the All-Russian Convention toward the Allies, or despair of combating it. As a matter of fact it cannot be combated until the present dictatorship of the socialist-pacifist Zimmerwald proletariat is broken.
The resolution, in paragraph 4, goes so far as to admit that a “separate peace would strengthen one of the belligerent groups,” but the leaders of the convention do not hesitate to prolong the “separate truce.”[Page 103]
The understanding the ignorant masses of soldiers place on the present policy of the All-Russian Convention and the Temporary Government toward the Allies and regarding peace, is vividly shown in the resolution adopted by the Russian “Territorial Committee of the Army, Navy and Workmen for Finland,” representing the Russian soldiers, sailors and workmen quartered in Finland. This resolution reads in part:
The territorial committee declares that the refusal of the Allied Governments to accept the peace platform of the Russian democracy makes it impossible for the Russian democracy to continue further united political and strategical cooperation with the Allies. The new confirmation of the annexationist Allied Governments puts them in the same class with our enemies, the imperialistic Governments of Germany and Austria. … The first result of the Allied Governments’ refusal to accede to the demands of the Russian democracy should be a complete break with them.
A similar resolution was passed by the joint committee of seven warships (cruisers and battleships) lying at Helsingfors, protesting against sending Russian troops to France until France accepts Russian slogans. A resolution of the Union of Soldiers and Sailors calls for the confiscation of foreign banks and the expulsion from Russia of foreign capitalists. …
The great demonstration set by the All-Russian Convention for Sunday July 1, that brought terror to the hearts of the Petrograd populace who left the city in great numbers for the day, passed off quietly, as any other great parade might have, except in two instances where banners for the Temporary Government were torn with the natural resulting confusion. The convention had no intention of organizing a parade until it became known, during the night of June 22, that the Maximalists were secretly preparing a grand armed demonstration against the counter-revolution, the Temporary Government and the war. After the uncompromising embargo laid on this Maximalist demonstration by the majority of the convention, the convention found itself so placed that it was forced to organize a manifestation of some sort to escape the accusation of being itself reactionary. This it did in the last three days of the week of June 24.
The Maximalists were in the majority, as most of the parties supporting the Temporary Government, including the Cossacks, determined at the last moment not to parade, and the enormous number of placards they had carefully prepared for the workmen and radical troops to carry gave the entire parade a color strongly at variance with the ideas of the convention majority. Every tenth placard bore the legend, “Down with the counter-revolution! “The other placards read, “Down with the Temporary Government!” “Down [Page 104] with the ten capitalist Ministers!” “Down with the war!” “All power to the Councils of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies!” and the whole propaganda of the Maximalists was summed up in the many placards, “Bread, peace and liberty!”
In spite of the ban laid by the convention majority on the bearing of arms in the parade, the anarchists, who appeared in far greater numbers than ever before, had an armed guard around each of their black banners. Several such banners bore a skull and crossbones and the legend, “Death to the capitalists!”
After the parade a body of anarchists went to the Kresty prison on the Viborg side and demanded the release of certain anarchists and Maximalists, as well as several other radicals arrested on charges of being German spies. The head of the prison released the men. At the same time a jail delivery took place at the transfer prison and 480 prisoners awaiting transfer to other prisons and courts escaped. The anarchists and Maximalist crow proceeded to the Villa Durnovo with the freed persons. In the meantime the Temporary Government issued strict orders to the Minister of Justice, who at once proceeded to the villa with troops and Cossacks under the personal command of the Commander in Chief of the Petrograd Military District. The Minister demanded the immediate surrender of the escaped convicts, which was refused. The matter was then handed over to the military. The Commander in Chief of the Petrograd District then demanded the surrender, which was also refused. The troops then forced an entrance into the villa through the back windows. A bomb was thrown at them but it failed to explode. An anarchist committed suicide and sixty anarchists and Maximalists were arrested, including the escaped prisoners.
This is the first time that force has actually been used by the Temporary Government, and the act met with universal approval from all sides except from the Maximalists. On the day after (Monday), workmen and soldiers, and representatives of Maximalist organizations, in small groups, went to the Tauride Palace to the room of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies, demanding the release of the anarchists and Maximalists and announcing the beginning of partial strikes in many factories. A committee was formed for the purpose of obtaining the release of all those arrested, except those under a criminal charge, in twenty-four hours.
This evidence of a stronger attitude on the part of the Temporary Government, made possible by the assured support of the Cossacks, is the only means of averting the openly talked-of counter-revolution.
I have [etc.]
- Not printed. Dan, a leader of the Social Democrats (Mensheviks), was reporter for the executive committee on the resolution defining the attitude of the congress toward the war.↩