Paris Peace Conf. 8611.00/14
Memorandum by Mr. A. W. Dulles, December 30, 1918
Lithuania and Poland—The last barrier between Germany and the bolsheviki
During the past few days I have had occasion in Berne to talk with a number of Lithuanians, Poles, Hungarians and Austrians. Their own internal, political and economic difficulties appear to be forced into the background as a result of their dread of the Bolshevik invasion. In pleading for immediate military assistance, two leading Lithuanians stated that the present feeble but anti-Bolshevik Government in Lithuania and the Pilsudski Government in Poland were the last line of defense between a Germany that was tending more and more toward Bolshevism and the forces of Lenine in Russia.
The Lithuanians stated that there was in Lithuania the nucleus of an army, but that they lacked a General Staff and arms and ammunition. Among the Lithuanian peasantry, where the literacy is high, there is a natural opposition to the Bolsheviki, but there is no means of organizing this opposition. According to latest reports, the Lithuanian Government (Taryba) has retired westward from Vilna to Kovno and a soviet formed in Vilna. In case the Allies desire to utilize the still existent anti-Bolsheviki forces of Lithuania, immediate military assistance is vital. This could be furnished either through the port of Memel or Libau, preferably the former if the armistice conditions permit. Both these ports are reported to be ice free.[Page 482]
The Lithuanians assert that a relatively insignificant force of from four to six thousand men with a well equipped General Staff and arms and ammunition would be sufficient to rally the anti-Bolshevist forces of the country. In Poland the situation is apparently very similar. The Pilsudski Government has, up to the present, succeeded in maintaining the support of the Socialist elements, (which appear today to be all powerful in Poland) without, however, committing itself to radical Socialism or Bolshevism. Much as Pilsudski would personally like to reach an agreement with Dmowsky and the National Democrats, he is unable to do it in view of the socialist opposition, as it would cost him his position in case the Socialists could charge him with negotiations with either Dmowsky or the national democrats, whom the Polish Socialists regard as reactionary and imperialistic. If the Socialists lose confidence in Pilsudsky and overthrow him, the triumph of radical Socialists or even Bolshevik doctrines in Poland is the probable outcome.
The Pilsudsky Government is apparently ready and willing to work with the Lithuanians in case the latter are willing to accept an economic and military alliance with Poland. This information is furnished by M. Gabrys, a prominent Lithuanian leader, who has just arrived in Paris (with a French diplomatic passport) at the request of M. Pichon and M. Franklin Bouillon. M. Gabrys said he did not know the exact task for which the French Government had summoned him, but it is significant that he has been won to the idea of an autonomous rather than an entire independent Lithuania closely allied to a greater Russia or if that were impossible, to Poland.
From the above it may be fair to conclude that the moment is a propitious one for a cooperation between Lithuania and Poland with allied assistance to combat Bolshevism. The present almost tottering condition of the provisional Government in both Lithuania and Poland makes immediate action desirable in case it is deemed wise to take advantage of this opportunity. With the present situation in Berlin, a situation which may spread to other industrial towns of Germany, the breakdown of the last barrier between the Bolsheviks of Russia and the Liebknecht party of Germany might mean flooding with Bolshevism all western Europe up to the allied forces on the Rhine.
Polish and Lithuanian informants in Switzerland agree that the Allies should not be deterred from a military expedition because of the fear that it would require hundreds of thousands of men. All they ask is a small army as a nucleus for their own forces. They affirm that the growth of the Bolshevist power is due to the fact that they have never met a serious military defeat. In invading new districts, the Bolshevist army forces able bodied men to choose between [Page 483] incorporation in its ranks and immediate death. In this way it has gathered together an army of persons, who, for a large percentage, are serving against their will and therefore an army which would be greatly weakened by desertion as soon as it met any real opposition.
According to the statements of Austrians and Hungarians, they are watching with fear and trembling the approach of the Bolsheviks and with the ever increasing tendency towards Bolshevism which is especially making itself felt in Hungary they do not believe that either Austria or Hungary would act as a barrier to its advance but rather as fertile soil in case Poland and Lithuania are eliminated.