File No. 861.00/1723
The Minister in Sweden ( Morris ) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 3, 2.50 a.m.]
1991. Swedish press reports the decree recently issued by German Commander in Chief Eichhorn in Ukraine has caused serious conflicts both in German Reichstag and Ukraine. The decree notified the peasants the German commander in Ukraine exacted fulfilment of following points:
- The man cultivating soil be the one to get the crop and payment in accordance current prices.
- The man cultivating land beyond his forces was inflicting detriment on Ukrainian state and would receive severe punishment.
- Where peasants unable plant whole of the soil the proprietors must provide for planting, and in such case the land distribution commissions should not take it for distribution among peasants; on contrary they should supply horses and machines for the planting.
The Ukrainian Agricultural Minister regarded decree as intolerable intrusion of his official authority and resigned. The Rada unanimously adopted following resolution in protest:
The Rada having heard declaration of Agricultural Minister and noted his resignation emphasized that German troops were called by Ukrainian troops for purpose of helping them in restoring order within such limits and in such direction only as decided by the Ukrainian people’s republic, that no arbitrary interference on part of German and Austro-Hungarian military commanders [in] social-political life of Ukraine will be tolerated, that such interference as that of General Eichhorn will disorganize our economic life, aggravate social-political conditions, and render impossible fulfilment of obligations concluded and signed between Ukrainian people’s republic and Central powers. At same time the Rada in refusing to grant demission of Minister of Agriculture requests him to announce to population that Eichhorn’s order shall not be obeyed. Foreign Minister will send presidents of Berlin and Vienna Ministries notes in accordance with this decision, protesting against order and other interference on part of German-Austrian military authorities in social-political life of Ukraine.
Decree been subject of debate in main committee of German Reichstag, where was criticized by Scheidemann, Erzberger, and others. However, it is asserted semiofficially discontent in Ukraine over decree partly due to fact it had been corrupted in translation reproduced by Kiev paper, and therefore been mistaken for some kind of interference in Ukrainian land proprietorship question.[Page 681]
Eichhorn prompted by regard for necessity of getting cultivation started had therefore guaranteed crop be given to those cultivating soil even if were proprietors, and he had also proclaimed the one failing to do his part of the spring work must be prepared to take punishment for detriment thus inflicted upon Ukrainian state. German military committee must see to it Germany really received the quantities of grain provided for in agreement for sake of which peace had been concluded and military assistance given Ukraine. It is announced moreover a formal agreement fixing scope of activity of German army in Ukraine is being drafted, and is expected for benefit both parties to settle conflict arisen through Eichhorn decree.