The Vice Consul at Viborg ( Imbrie ) to the Acting Secretary of State
[Received March 4, 1:33 a.m.]
3. Have had several conferences with General Boris Gylenbogel, his chief of staff and Ernest Grade, formerly Undersecretary of Finance in the Czar’s Government, representing respectively the military and financial heads of the Russian Whites, opposed to the Bolshevik de facto Government.
The Whites have, with the knowledge and implied consent of the Finnish Government, perfected a military organization numbering, they state, 10,000 men, volunteers. According to the General, this force is fully supplied with small arms and ammunition and has an adequate supply of machine guns though little artillery; its mobilization can be completed in less than a week; its discipline claimed to be that of the old regime army.
The object of this organization is the capture of Petrograd and afterward Moscow and the overthrow of the Bolsheviks. With the assistance of those Whites in these cities ready to join the movement once it is launched and the Finnish Independents, the leaders assert there is little doubt as to the success of such an attempt. The Whites assert their problem is not a military one but economic: it is a question of food and it is in this connection they ask the assistance of the United States.
The Whites are aware of the fact that it would be impracticable to send food directly for such a force, either to Finland or to the southern Baltic coast, especially as they can’t be absolutely sure of the Esthonian loyalty. They have sufficient food for a campaign of ten days and to feed Petrograd for that length of time but if when this is exhausted other food is not forthcoming, they feel that their efforts will have been in vain as anarchy, induced by hunger, will again break out. Whites ask that American Government ship to some port in Scandinavia, by preference Copenhagen, sufficient food to supply Petrograd and Moscow once they are taken, this food to be started from Copenhagen immediately a military success is accomplished.
Estimated food needed: 60,000 tons flour, 10,000 tons meat, 5,000 tons fats, 2,000 tons sugar and other supplies in proportion, delivery to a period of four months after which time it is believed the country will supply its own food.[Page 671]
The Whites express their entire sympathy with the Siberian Government under Kolchak and their desire to cooperate with Allied forces in the North, stating that once Petrograd is taken they will dispatch a force to Vologda to take Red Army in rear. They assure me there will be no looting, no destruction of private property, no pogrom, and that if food is furnished by United States in support of this venture they will be guided by the wishes of our Government both as to their internal policy and their relationship with Germany. Also that the United States will have the preferential interest of the new Government, both politically and economically. They also guarantee me uninterrupted telegraphic cipher communication.
As to the repayment of the money represented by the food supplies, the Whites offer two methods: first, the passage of a law by the Government in Siberia taxing banks 5 per cent on their capital, this fund to be paid over to the United States when the Whites gain control; second, an undertaking of the various White leaders here, in Siberia, in Ukrainia, and in the North to float a bond issue once the Government comes into power, to act as a claim on future state funds.
If the United States Government thinks favorably of sending food in support of the Whites, I cannot too strongly urge the necessity of immediate action; 1st, because the attitude of the Finnish Government towards the project of the Whites may change; 2d, that the lives of the starving people in Petrograd and Moscow may be saved; 3d, if the movement is long deferred the peasants, upon whom the Whites count for support, will be engaged in working their land and will not rise to support the movement. Even a month’s delay may be fatal to the project.
I have of course made no statement to the White leaders as to the probable attitude of our Government nor committed myself in any way.