File No. 861.00/2288
The Consul at Vladivostok (Caldwell) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 18, 9.45 a.m.]
51. Department’s July 13, 5 p.m. No communication with Harris or any point interior Siberia since June 29, 9 a.m., but following is most accurate information obtainable here:
- 1 and 2.
- There are 2,000 Czechs here and 12,000 along railway for 150 miles towards Khabarovsk; between Volga River bridge and vicinity of Irkutsk there are 40,000 plus uncertain number prisoners from prison camps estimated from 5,000 to 20,000.
- Movement in west is toward Irkutsk in effort to reach Vladivostok en route to France. Movement here is toward Khabarovsk and thence to Irkutsk in effort to effect junction with, and rescue Czechs west of that point. Until object attained both bodies must retain control of present positions and railway over which they have passed. They prefer to go via Chinese Eastern Railway if permission of China can be secured.
- Czechs in this section have 10,000 Japanese rifles, 40 machine guns, 3,000,000 cartridges, and unknown number Russian three-line rifles without much ammunition for them; western group have unknown number Russian three-line rifles and machine guns and such ammunition as they have been able to capture, quantity being entirely unknown here.
- Czechs this section have 6 Japanese three-inch mountain guns with 1,000 shells and 7 old Russian three-inch guns without sufficient ammunition.
Red Army and Red Guards
- They are located south of Khabarovsk to eradicate Czechs, on Chita front, facing [Udinsk?], and between Irkutsk and Volga River against western group of Czechs.
- There are about 10,000 east of Irkutsk, possibly 20,000 in western Siberia, and unknown number west of Ural Mountains.
- Movement is east to Khabarovsk and south toward Nikolsk, west from Chita toward Irkutsk and probably east from European Russia toward Volga River.
- They have Russian three-line rifles and abundant ammunition at Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, Novo Nikolaevsk, and Omsk which has been seized by Czechs.
- They have 80 to 120 three-inch field guns of which about 40 are on Khabarovsk front, 30 to 50 on [Udinsk?] front, and remainder at and west of Irkutsk; 8 to 20 six-inch guns and abundant ammunition for all guns.
Answers 3, 4, and 5 under this heading include also armed prisoners of war as separate figures can not be given for them.
Armed and Unarmed Prisoners of War
Following data were delivered confidentially and in good faith furnished Consul Macgowan May 28 by … Vice Consul at Irkutsk:
1 and 2. In Priamur district about 10,000 war prisoners, number each nationality not given; in remainder Siberia 150,000 Austro-Hungarians and 13,000 Germans. Prisoners not more than 5 per cent armed before Czechs came except in Omsk where movement began.
Up to June not more than 5,000 armed prisoners known to have passed Irkutsk eastward at which time they were ostensibly Bolshevik international, principally fighting class war, but now they include nationally loyal Hungarians and Germans, fighting Czechs only and their army has greatly increased. Illustrating this: at Irkutsk before clash with Czechs May 26 there were few armed prisoners from local camp, and officers apparently opposed movement, but within two weeks Consul General Harris telegraphed Irkutsk was in hands of 3,000 armed prisoners of war under their own officers. At same time Soviet leaders at several places stated they would arm every prisoner in Siberia rather than lose power. Since middle June no reliable information from west of Khabarovsk but coalitions of [from conditions at] that point it appears one-fourth to one-half prisoners are armed against the Czechs. On this basis there must be not less than 50,000 war prisoners in Siberia armed or who can be armed, of whom 15,000 to 27,000 east of Irkutsk.[Page 292]
Local Czech information service supplies following, dated July 14: Forces opposing Czechs north of Nikolsk 4,000 prisoners and 1,000 [garbled groups], 10,000 Hungarians and Germans from Khabarovsk. Enemy received artillery reinforcements including six-inch howitzers. Instructions have been given to increase output Khabarovsk arsenal and remove cannon from Amur River gunboats for use against Czechs. Forcible recruiting of the peasants and even of Chinese and Koreans reported. Czechs claim to have documentary proof of wide participation of Hungarian and German prisoners in command of Red Army and also anti-Ally agitation.