File No. 861.00/2503

The Consul at Vladivostok (Caldwell) to the Secretary of State


98. Following is a summary of a report by General Dietrichs, commanding Czech forces, and of the transmitting letter of Doctor Girsa, member Czech National Council, showing the necessity of more extensive Allied military assistance to save their troops in western Siberia. The fact is that war prisoners are being armed faster than Allied assistance can arrive under present plans, and force considered sufficient when asked for six weeks ago is now in [Page 347] adequate. This is clearly shown by telegram from Consul Ray forwarded by my 95, August 13, 5 p.m. which also shows that large number war prisoners will have to be fought on other fronts if not fought in Russia, I therefore earnestly recommend immediate extension of plans to provide sufficient force to reach Irkutsk before winter.

Following is summary of letter of Doctor Girsa:

In sending you statement addressed by General Dietrichs to Czecho-Slovak National Council regarding military hostility our troops, we have the honor to request you to communicate to your Government our following appeal. It is clear that the position of our troops becomes daily more severe whereas enemy forces are growing. Therefore the task of our eastern detachment becomes, if not impossible, at least very difficult without any guarantee of success. Our troops will of course cheerfully fulfil their duty, but we feel obliged to point out to the Allied powers that this may mean the loss of the troops participating. If our troops do not reach their destination by winter (within six weeks) our troops will be lost, which would be a great gain for Germany and a loss to the Allies. Russia would be entirely at the mercy of Germany.

Having received so many proofs of the sincere sympathy and active help of all the Allied powers we venture to point out that our object—the liberation of our troops in Siberia from Germans and Hungarians—can be achieved only in case the Allies do not confine themselves to operations on the Khabarovsk front, but grant our troops sufficient military assistance in our advance on Irkutsk. Doctor Girsa, Member Czecho-Slovak National Council.

Following is summary of report of General Dietrichs:

The limiting of Allied assistance to Khabarovsk front makes question of re[dis]tribution Czecho-Slovaks between Lake Baikal and Volga River assume critical form as enemy forces will be withdrawn from Khabarovsk front to strengthen Irkutsk front, forcing Czechs to remain in western Siberia over winter, insufficiently provided with munitions, money and clothing. Enemy can concentrate 30,000 organized Germans and Hungarians, 70 guns, and 200 machine guns in Chita-Baikal area, where Czecho-Slovaks will have 5,000 men with 6 to 12 guns and limited ammunition. Czech force of 8,000 cannot be now concentrated on Manchurian border before September with 900 miles to cover by fighting to reach other body our troops, during which it is possible enemy may attack in overwhelming force and drive our western body of troops still further west placing between me and them permanent obstruction in the form of strong military force or destruction of railway.

I do not wish to deal with the position of Czecho-Slovak western group in case pressure from Baikal region is accompanied by pressure by Germans in Volga River area. It is evident that eastern group of armed German war prisoners will endeavor to break through to west, join Germans advancing from Volga, and that strength of eastern enemy group will increase as Czechs retreat westward, enemy [Page 348] forces being augmented by recruits from war prisoners now disarmed by Czechs.

In this attempt the eastern German-Hungarian group takes very small risk because they can rely upon food being supplied by Bolshevik authorities restored by their advance and in the event of reverse they would be no worse off than on Khabarovsk front, where a large proportion of them at critical moment appeared to be in prison camps or at work.

It should be pointed out that regardless of high fighting qualities of the 13,000 Czecho-Slovaks their chances of success against 30,000 German-Hungarian war prisoners cannot be regarded with complete confidence considering Czechs’ great lack of artillery, machine guns and cavalry, and fact that with Bolshevik assistance enemy forces can be increased to 35,000 or 40,000 men.

No time should be lost as only six weeks remain for military operations in which time every effort should be made to carry out these operations as swiftly and successfully as possible. This can be done only by the Allies’ extending their operations to the Manchurian-Transbaikal front with large forces. General Commandant Czecho-Slovak forces in Siberia.