861.00/6869: Telegram

The High Commissioner at Constantinople ( Bristol ) to the Secretary of State

316. Following from Admiral McCully, Sevastopol:

46. April 29, 2 p.m. After three months observation of conditions in Southern Russia the principal conclusion evident is that all of Russia is sick to death of war and its accompanying disorganization, desolation and suffering. For the great mass of the people any solution at all would be welcome that would establish peace and order. Elements opposing solution are Communists on one side, and old regime on the other side, both following similar methods and neither entitled to consideration but so far constituting the only elements in Russia to which the foreign powers have given any attention. No practical interest has so far been shown in the great body of the patient, lovable, suffering Russian people.

The struggle at present is [maintained on one side by] a small, compact, for the most part seasoned and efficient force under capable leadership and occupying in the Crimea a position strong both from military and political point of view. This position can be held possibly for a year during which this area can be developed economically, peace, [order] and content established and then by force of [accomplishments] its influence may be extended over other parts of Russia, Such is the plan as announced by present government and the preliminary steps taken promise fulfillment.

On the other side are overwhelming forces directed by a [strong] will with unscrupulous use of force but according to information here giving unmistakable evidence of internal disorganization, discontent and dissension. Both sides seem willing at this time to suspend operations and so obtain a breathing spell.

The South Russian party gives evidence of having learned much and is no longer controlled by reactionaries who are however still strong enough to hamper liberal reforms. The head of South Russian government, General Wrangel, has himself learned his lesson and is even in advance of liberal ideas so far developing in his party.

The Bolsheviks have also undoubtedly progressed. They have destroyed [organized?] secretariat, corrected many gross abuses and even developed grandiose plans for advancement of mankind. Particularly their attention to education and care of children indicate a spiritual advancement not yet reached in their conservative opponents. [Page 596] They have also done much to promote advance of individual political rights. All, however, has been accomplished by a brutal exercise of force and accompanied by development of a bureaucratic administration and a militaristic organization both hated by the Russian people who are also utterly opposed to communism.

Foreign intervention in Russian affairs has accomplished nothing useful either for the Russian or for interests of the powers intervening. The Russian people have never been convinced that foreign intervention had any other aim than the self interests of those powers. From the British Government the Russians accept assistance but feel that at the same time the British law [sic] will be presented for payment. In Russian opinion any accomplishment by France is discredited. Italy is not regarded as a serious factor. Russians have little consciousness of any active measures by the United States and little knowledge any practical assistance in their distress but although Russians and Americans become quickly sympathetic individually and quickly get each others point of view, yet nevertheless any activity of the United States in Russian affairs would be regarded [by] the Russians in [presaging] the domination of [Jewish] influence. There is no evidence of organized German propaganda but there is a strong sentiment among the humblest types of Russians that if any external influence is necessary that of Germany is the only one capable of restoring peace and order, not realizing that Germany is now herself in preliminary stages of Bolshevism. This idea comes from experience of German occupation in 1918 when a comparatively small German army occupied South Russia lightly disposing of any Bolshevik resistance, not even serious [fighting?] being necessary. Each Russian peasant knows that the appearance of German uniforms was the signal for disappearance of Bolsheviks and that in a town of fifty or sixty thousand inhabitants, peace and order was maintained by detachments of fifty or sixty German soldiers.

This is compared with discouraging Allied intervention which through its confused and half hearted policies, brought only increasing disorder and usually ended in abandonment of such Russians as confided in them to mercies of Bolsheviks. In Russia the German mark has been throughout favored in exchange. Pound sterling could be exchanged for 5,000 roubles while a pound sterling worth of marks according to London exchange was worth 12,000 roubles and this was not affected even during disorders in Germany. This is the strength of German influence and, powerful though it is, does not indicate that Russia will accept German domination. Greece is the power most disliked by Russians. The only power whose prestige has increased amongst Russians is Servia which, [Page 597] from her little, has given more than great powers from their much and which by this means has won Russian affiliations.

A cessation of fighting by all elements at this time is most desirable in order to avoid suffering to innocent populations and during a peaceful interval to give, if possible, the Russian people itself a chance to be heard and chance to choose the side with which it will ally itself.

The movement for autonomy amongst various districts of Russia is not so much a movement for political autonomy or independence as it is the expression of a desire to live their lives in their own way without external interference in internal affairs. These districts will all drift back into Russia. Russia has a national Slav spirit and will remain a great and formidable nation not dominated by other power whatsoever and with less reason than ever for close relations with any other power. It will be a power whose good will will be invaluable and with whom it would be wise to be friends. McCully.

Bristol
  1. Telegram in four sections.