862.00/344: Telegram

The Chargé in Denmark ( Grant-Smith ) to the Secretary of State 10

3182. Last night a very prominent member of the at present all-powerful executive committee of the Berlin Workmens and Soldiers Council together with another German not in sympathy with the revolution arrived from Berlin in company with a neutral diplomat en poste in Berlin. A two hours’ conversation with them left the following impression:

That the application of the armistice terms in conjunction with the temper of the troops absolutely precluded any German military action whatsoever. Difficulty is even being experienced in defending the eastern boundary against the Poles.
The soldiers councils thus far are the strongest forces for order as opposed to Bolshevikism.
This applies equally to such councils at the front; but conditions in the “Etappen” are chaotic, demonetization being in the [omission] and it is here the Spartacus agents, who are omnipresent and very active begin their work.
Housing facilities, food and clothing are lacking for many soldiers. They are accordingly also easy victims for the Bolshevik agents.
Thus if the soldiers return faster than arrangements can be made for their demobilization, anarchy is certain to supervene.
Therefore the time limits for withdrawal beyond the Rhine should be extended if it was not our intention to bring about the conditions described.
The immediate loss of such a large number of motorcars, locomotive and railway cars would make a proper demobilization almost impossible, especially in view of the desperate state of all transport material which had reached a degree of general dilapidation little dreamed of by us.
Food is immediately needed to support the partisans of order and should be withheld from such districts as might embrace Bolshevism. The immediate relaxation of the embargo on fish from Scandinavia resulting from the loss of naval control of the Baltic would have an excellent effect as tangible proof of the willingness of the Allies to help relieve the food situation.
The Spartacus leaders are referring to reports of possible food relief from the Associated Governments as chimerical; thus Muller of the executive committee recently stated to the workmen’s council of greater Berlin that such reports were “lies invented by the bourgeois press to aid the capitalistic forces.”
By such statements and by making the best use of the present chaos the Spartacus group hope to create general anarchy. It is nothing [sic] that the Spartacus are the only party which have not protested publicly against the terms of the armistice, privately they express hopes of an Entente occupation of Germany boasting that they can then most easily infect the Entente troops.
Aside from an extension of the time for evacuation and retirement, the most potent counter measures against the Spartacus influence would be: (a) A more definite statement by President Wilson that relief measures will be undertaken but will be extended only to orderly communities, (b) An equally definite pronouncement by the President that no peace can be negotiated or signed with a government other than one representing the whole people; in such a pronouncement care should be taken against its being interpreted as excluding a socialistic republic democratically based.
They declared with much emphasis that no statement made by a German would carry any weight nor would that of any Entente statesman. The only pronouncements which now carried weight with the German masses and which were sure to reach and impress them were those of President Wilson. I called attention to the President’s last speech11 and to various other statements regarding the intention to institute relief measures. They replied that none had been sufficiently definitely or formal.

The contentions of the two Germans who are agreed on the necessity of helping the democratic elements of the revolution to gain the ascendency were supported by the neutral diplomat. I was impressed with the sincerity of my informants. Their account of the great and [Page 30] immediate danger of the Spartacus group gaining control and creating anarchy convinced me of the accuracy of the views expressed in my 3108, November 11, 3 p.m.12 Today Bouton of the Associated Press reports that the Spartacus group have obtained full control in Kiel and in the whole Düsseldorf district while the Danish press reports that Liebknecht has held three enthusiastic meetings in Berlin. If anarchy in Germany is to be avoided some recognition of the efforts of the democratic elements in the present government would seem imperatively necessary, while on the other hand it should be made still more clear that a Germany ruled by Spartacus Bolsheviki elements will be given neither assistance nor peace. Copy to London.

  1. Repeated to Colonel House as Department’s No. 78, Nov. 26, 1918, 8 p.m.
  2. Delivered at a joint session of the two houses of Congress, Nov. 11, 1918; text in Congressional Record, vol. 56, pt. 11, p. 11541.
  3. Not printed.