File No. 861.00/2694
The Consul General at Irkutsk ( Harris ) to the Secretary of State 1
[Received September 14, 12.54 p.m.]
70. Following report Vice Consul Williams, Samara:
Returned from Kazan August 3 and send summary report at first opportunity. Military situation around Kazan serious since its capture August 7; at least 10,000 Bolsheviki and war prisoners here surrounded city; three times cut off all communication by river below Kazan and came within two versts of city. Only persistent heroic work of small force of Serbians and Czechs and frequent sending of Czech reinforcements saved Kazan from recapture. Repeated aeroplane attacks over city did little damage but terrified population. Situation now better and believe city can not fall. Unsatisfactory response to new army mobilization in Kazan. Afraid to identify themselves with movement while danger of Bolshevik return. New Russian army has been disappointing in fighting around Kazan, officers and men alike have deserted important positions through blunder of staff and desertions of men. Kazan water works retaken by Bolsheviks and [who] now hold them.
Losses heavier than in other fighting and Czechs weary from constant fighting at most difficult points with minimum of rest. Czechs are curtailing spy activity energetically. Captain Borde of French Military Mission directs all movements of Czechs and Serbians there. Simbirsk was captured easily and held without much effort. City quiet, but there also poor response to mobilization. Population seems indifferent regarding political situation. There is strong Bolshevik sympathy among 30,000 workmen of Kazan [out of] population of [Page 375] city of 300,000; Tatar element, comprising one third, is peaceable, strongly anti-socialistic. Simbirsk with 90,000 population and little industry is conservative and has few. Strong feeling in both cities that the delegates to Constitutional Assembly, all Social Revolutionists, elected one year ago, do not now represent the constituents and citizens. Generally are unwilling to recognize the authority of this government in Samara. In recent election to City Duma in Simbirsk the socialists secured only 32 seats out of 61 which shows present trend of political sentiments there; while of the eight delegates to the Constitutional Assembly from Simbirsk government, chosen one year ago, seven are Social Revolutionary and one Bolshevik. The government of members of Constitutional Assembly in Samara is regarded as extreme and radical party government not representative of Russia to-day and incapable of saving country now. When Kazan was taken the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Samara government published there the decree abolishing all private ownership of land, vesting all ownership of land in the government. This decree alienated the support of a large proportion of the population. No such decree issued in [Simbirsk?]. I saw many Russians, representatives of city and military authority and business life. All, except those whose position prevents freedom of expression, agree that government of members of Constitutional Assembly, as now constituted, offers no help to situation. All agree military dictator is absolutely necessary and all but one think he can not be Russian but an Allied military dictator with a few thousand troops supporting him to restore order, compel men to work again, and establish the army.
- Sent via the Legation in China.↩